Korea’s e-Gov’t Initiatives Get Global Limelight
By Do Je-hae
One of the key tasks of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) is digitalizing administrative work procedures and citizen services through IT applications. Korea has established itself as an ideal e-government model for developing nations and its systems have received global recognition.
Park Chan-woo, assistant minister of MOPAS, told The Korea Times that Korea has been able to demonstrate a formidable leadership in e-government on the back of its high rate of Internet connections across the country. About 85 percent of households have access to a fixed line broadband connection.
``As an IT powerhouse, Korea is one of the few countries able to make full use of such highly convenient online infrastructure in conducting government affairs,'' said Park, in introducing the ``On-Nala system'' that has been used by central government agencies to manage state affairs. ``We have plans to expand the system to our local governments.''
Any central government employee is able to do his or her work online from planning policies to making decisions and assessing performance. It has reinvented how government employees function on a day-to-day basis for efficiency, accountability and transparency of administrative actions.
A key objective of establishing an e-government infrastructure nationwide is to maximize convenience and accessibility of public services. MOPAS has developed G4C (Government for Citizen) at www.G4C.go.kr, an electronic civil petition portal site. ``Currently, there are over 700 out of approximately 5,000 civil documents that can be issued through Internet. Citizens can either visit G4C, or various sites like www.korea.go.kr, www.hometax.go.kr.''
Park also added that the government plans to develop a new conclusive web portal that consolidates the functions of the existing portals like the G4C and many other Web sites by next year, creating a one-stop platform for citizen services. ``Once completed, it will be the first of its kind in the world,'' Park noted.
A visible success model of e-government is the ``Information Network Village'' (INVIL) project. The ambitious online enterprise was conceived to provide Internet connection to farming and fishing villages.
The ministry has installed high-speed Internet network in information centers and households free of charge in 338 designated villages. It also runs an online shopping site at www.invil.com, featuring agricultural products from the villages. Almost 2,000 government officials from more than 80 countries have visited Korea to learn about the novel project aimed at eradicating the digital divide and boosting income for farmers.
In recent years, MOPAS has gained global recognition from the UN, OECD and Brown University for its unique and timely e-government initiatives. ``We reported the establishment of the On-Nala system and the Government Innovation Index (GII) to the UN. MOPAS was awarded the UN Public Services Award in 2006,'' added Park. MOPAS won similar recognition from the OECD in 2005. In addition, Korea was ranked fifth out of 191 UN member states in 2005 in a UN e-government evaluation report and for two consecutive years starting 2006, U.S. Brown University ranked Korea first it its e-government evaluation.
As a leader in reinventing government through IT applications, Korea is home to the UN Project Office on Governance (UNPOG), the first UN institution in Asia established in 2006 to research the issue of promoting participatory, transparent and effective governance for all UN member states. MOPAS has actively participated in relevant international conferences and signed MOUs with countries such as Vietnam, the UAE, Egypt and others to share its e-government experiences.