The entrenching of the Internet economy is posing challenges for governments to be responsive to the needs of new businesses as well as those of its people. In Singapore, the answer has been the e-government (http://www.gov.sg).
The Government has spent S$1.5 billion in setting up its mirror site on the Web. A major portion of the cost was used for the setting up of the relevant digital infrastructure and migrating relevant offline content of its ministries and statutory boards online. The intent is to provide the public and businesses more convenience and prompt services.
The core of the e-Government comprises GovII, an IT infrastructure of several layers that interconnects all ministries and statutory boards in a seamless manner as well as with external organizations and the public. It is this enhanced level of connectivity that has propelled the transition to an e-government in a manner that helps the public and businesses to fulfill their requisite needs conveniently. Applications delivered over the network include the Government Electronic Mail System, the government intranet, the Public Sector Smart Card and others.
Among the key services deployed over e-Government include:
Initiated in 1995 and developed over the years, this provides the public with an array of information.
Transcending the weekday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. grind as well as the weekend 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. routine, this portal heralds a paradigm shift in the manner in which the public interacts with the government. All manner of services that the citizen needs are available in this portal. It is estimated that this portal alone contributes to a savings of S$40 million a year.
The one-stop website features over 200 online services, the more important of which are outlined below:
Business – registering a business, applying for a patent, etc.
Defence – allowing male citizens to register for national service, allowing them to apply for an exit permit when going overseas, allowing reservists to book a date for their annual Individual Physical Proficiency Test, etc.
Education – searching for information about the 360+ schools in Singapore, registering for the GCE 'O' and 'N' level examinations, applying for government scholarships, etc.
Employment – searching for jobs in the civil service, filing income tax returns, checking balances in the employee's Central Provident Fund account, etc.
Family – applying for work permits for foreign maids, applying for birth extract, etc.
A recent survey by Andersen Consulting on governments' use of the Internet has placed the Singapore government a close second to the U.S. government in the number of services being offered online.
The e-government is an important link in servicing businesses for their needs, especially in getting the necessary permits, licenses, approval, etc. Its effectiveness in supporting the needs of intelligent enterprises by being proactive, responsive, and prompt has been acknowledged by the business community.