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Electronic government 2

Promoting the Ideal of Electronic Government (Mid-1990s to the Present)

The “Civilian Government” of President Kim Youngsam began to promote the ideal of e-Government in the mid-1990s. The Framework Act on the Promotion of Informatization, enacted in 1995, formed the necessary legal ground upon which the central government could promote and wage its informatization campaign. The NENIP provided the occasion for integrating the different informatization projects then being carried out in different ministries and departments. The IPC, which reported directly to the Prime Minister, was set up to help coordinate the national informatization policy. The IPC also included a working committee to support its operations as well as the Informatization Promotion Subcommittee responsible for reviewing and evaluating informatization plans. The IPC was in charge of reviewing the Basic Informatization Promotion Plan and accompanying action plans, as well as the process of building information communication infrastructure and the performance and progress of informatization policy measures. The IPC supervised and coordinated the informatization projects of various organizations according to its reviews and findings. In addition, the Informatization Advisory Council was created. The Council’s civilian experts supported the IPC and its working committee (Ministry of Information and Communication, MIC, 1996).

The IPC, chaired by the Prime Minister and including all ministers as members, stood at the forefront of leading nationwide informatization projects from the 1990s onwards. The IPC’s working committee consisted of vice-ministers and included 23 subcommittees comprised of directors from various offices and bureaus. These senior officials worked together to develop and review plans for promoting informatization nationwide and achieving the ideal of e-Government. The range and scope of the IPC’s activities and authorities contracted somewhat under the two subsequent administrations, however. The Kim Daejung administration set up the Informatization Strategy Council (ISC) and the Special Committee for Electronic Government (SCEG), both chaired directly by the President, while the following Roh Moohyun administration established and operated the Expert Committee for Electronic Government (ECEG).

 Table 3-6 shows the implementing system that has been used since the days of the “Civilian Government” (the Kim Youngsam administration) in the mid-1990s to promote the ideal of e-Government. During the “Civilian Government” and the early part of the “People’s Government,” the IPC and the Administrative Informatization Promotion Committee (AIPC) played the central role in leading e-Government projects. Until this time, ministries and departments handled separate projects with support from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC). Starting in the latter part of the “People’s Government,” multi-ministry or multi-department projects were launched, with the MGAHA and the Ministry of Planning and Budget (MPB) playing larger coordinating roles. The SCEG also became the leading organization, effectively handling 11 projects altogether. The “Participatory Government” under the Roh administration set up the ECEG, which devised the roadmap for achieving an electronic government, and coordinated 31 projects government-wide in total. The Roh administration also organized its own SCEG in 2005 to replace the ECEG.
 
<Table 3-6> Evolution of the Implementing System for Electronic Government
 
Administration “Civilian Government” and early “People’s Government” Later “People’s Government” “Participatory Government”
Period Mid-1990s to 2000 Jan. 2001 to Feb. 2003 Apr. 2004 to Present
Characteristics Separate projects carried out by individual ministries/depts. Multi-ministry and multi-departmental projects Pan-governmental projects
Led / monitored by IPC and AIPC Government Innovation Committee (GIC) and SCEG Government Innovation and Decentralization Committee (GIDC), ECEG and SCEG
With support from MIC MIC, MGAHA, and MPB MGAHA
Budget Special funds and general budget Special funds and general budget General budget
Technical support from NCA NCA NCA
Source: Re-structured from data originally included in Seo (2005).
 
In the meantime, some of the tasks and functions of the MIC regarding electronic government projects were transferred to the MGAHA, and the Electronic Government Headquarters of the MGAHA subsequently began to oversee all tasks relating to such projects.
The following sections discuss the initiatives and efforts launched by the “People’s Government” and the “Participatory Government” to implement e-Government projects.[1]
 
1) Implementing system under the “People’s Government”
The Kim Daejung administration began to take note of the importance of electronic government projects toward the end of 2000, around the time the structural readjustment of the public sector, instigated by the Foreign Exchange Crisis, was in its final stages. The Kim administration set up the SCEG and the ISC, directly under the President’s supervision and chairmanship, in addition to the already existing IPC.

The Kim administration’s SCEG included seven civilian experts and 10 ex-officio members. Although it was officially a part of the GIC, it was guaranteed a significant degree of independence, as it reported directly to the President himself via the Presidential Secretariat.

The SCEG operated a working group and a working committee, both comprised of civilian and official members, each of which supported the effective and efficient operations of the SCEG. The SCEG also ran a working support group to help with administrative tasks and staffing, and organized the Infrastructure Review Team and the Project Managers Council to ensure the interoperability of projects in development. The SCEG also included the Statutory Consolidation Team that lobbied for the enactment and consolidation of legal and institutional grounds for e-Government projects, as well as the Service Advertising and Promoting Team.

The SCEG oversaw 11 projects in total, through which it sought to improve working conditions in the public service sector so as to better support the realization of e-Government. It also reviewed the progress of overall e-Government projects; coordinated differences of interest and opinion among related ministries and departments; and defined the roles and responsibilities of the government and the private sector.

Due to strong presidential support, the SCEG was far more effective than its predecessor in coordinating multi-ministry and multi-department projects. In particular, the civilian chairman and civilian members of the SCEG mostly handled coordination tasks, reviews, and evaluations, while the President’s requests and instructions were delivered by the Senior Secretary to the President for Policy Planning, who attended SCEG meetings.

Representatives of key ministries, including those from the MIC, the MPB, and the MGAHA, were members of the SCEG as well. The MIC provided the necessary funding for informatization projects; the MPB promoted government innovation through budget arrangement and planning; and the MGAHA helped manage organizational reforms and local government organizations. The participation of these ministries made it easier for the SCEG to secure and coordinate the necessary administrative, financial, and human resources.

The SCEG and its working committee, under the Kim administration, coordinated and elicited cooperation from various ministries and departments, playing a crucial role in ensuring that the multi-ministry and multi-department projects were completed within the designated time periods. The SCEG system, in other words, effectively solved conflicts of opinions and interests among different governmental bodies.
 
2) Implementing system under the “Participatory Government”
In its early days, the Roh Moohyun administration emulated much of the implementing system that had been set up and tried under its predecessor, the “People’s Government.” The GIDC organized the ECEG as an advisory body for the President and put it in charge of developing and promoting the blueprint for e-Government. All the involved ministries and departments, led by the MGAHA, provided the administrative and financial support required, while the NCA handled technical support. In sum, the ECEG devised and coordinated the overall plan, while ministries and departments carried out their parts according to the ECEG’s directives. The ECEG, comprised of officials sitting on the GIDC and civilian experts, devised its electronic government roadmap, envisioning 31 projects for the goal of realizing e-Government, including 18 ECEG-managed projects and 13 core projects (GIDC, 2005).

The main responsibilities of the ECEG included: developing a presidential roadmap for e-Government; managing the progress and implementation of the plan; and coordinating different interests, activities, and opinions where necessary. The key difference between the ECEG and its predecessor in the “People’s Government” is that while the former established an independent Presidential Policy Planning Office to handle the tasks of devising and implementing a roadmap, the latter worked with the Senior Secretary to the President for Policy Planning. As important policy matters were decided and implemented in meetings on the presidential policy agenda, the IPC, chaired by the Prime Minister, consequently lost much of its influence over e- Government projects. Beginning in 2004, the MGAHA acquired the functions of the MPB and became the sole provider of budget and planning coordination for e-Government projects, thus centralizing the administrative and executive functions of the roadmap. The NCA (later renamed the National Information Society Agency, or NISA), however, continued to provide technical support.

Figure 3-3 summarizes the e-Government implementing system of the Roh administration. The GIDC, of which the ECEG was a part, stood at the top of the organization and received support from the MGAHA, the MIC, the MPB, and the NCA. Issues on the ECEG’s agenda were discussed at meetings on the President’s policy agenda, and were further deliberated upon at IPC meetings. The ECEG coordinated and evaluated the e-Government projects being carried out by individual ministries and departments. More specifically, the ECEG implemented and managed 10 core projects of the 31 e-Government projects in total,[2] and evaluated the other 21 projects as well, while the MGAHA handled the planning and management of the remaining 21 projects.
Early in 2005, the Roh administration set up its own SCEG to replace the ECEG. While the electronic government implementing system under the SCEG shares much resemblance to that of the Kim Daejung administration at first glance, one major difference is that it became a purely advisory body for the President in January 2006 as a result of a decision made by the Office of the Senior Secretary to the President for Innovation Management. Now the MGAHA wields all power with respect to the implementation of e-Government projects (GIDC, 2005).
 
Table 3-7 compares the different bodies that led e-Government projects under the Kim and Roh administrations. While these bodies shared much in common in terms of their functions and organizational makeup, they produced different degrees of effect mainly due to differing levels of presidential support and the composition of each one’s supporting system. Because the SCEG and the ECEG were set up as special bodies, their members would have had difficulty eliciting cooperation from other established ministries and departments without firm presidential backing. The fact that the supporting system was centralized in the MGAHA under the Roh administration may have also contributed to the difference in outcomes between the two bodies. Overall, the presence or absence of strong presidential support and the composition of each one’s supporting system appear to have had a definitive impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the e-Government projects carried out under the Kim and Roh administrations.
 
<Table 3-7> Comparison of the SCEG and the ECEG
 
  “People’s Government” “Participatory Government”
Main body SCEG ECEG SCEG
Status The only semi-independent special committee of the GIC One of six special committees of the GIDC A special committee of the second GIDC, along with the Special Committees for Planning and Evaluation
Legal grounds GIC Regulation (Presidential Decree) GIDC Regulation (Presidential Decree) GIDC Regulation (Presidential Decree)
Duration Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2003 May 2003 to May 2005 June 2005 to Jan. 2006
Comprised of Vice-ministers and equivalents Office/bureau directors Vice-ministers and equivalents
Composition 17 members in total, including 7 civilian experts and 10 officials (Senior Secretary to the President for Policy Planning, and representatives of the MGAHA, MPB, MIC, and other related ministries/depts.) 20 members in total, including 15 civilian experts and 5 ex-officio members (including those from the MGAHA, MIC, MPB, National Assembly offices/bureaus, and the Office of GIDC Operation) 18 members in total, including 13 civilian experts and 5 ex-officio members (including those from the MGAHA, MIC, MPB, National Assembly offices/bureaus, and the Office of GIDC Operation)
Member term 2 years 1 year 2 years
Working Committee Present (with members drawn from various ministries/depts.) None None
Support MIC (technical and financial), MPB (innovation budget), MGAHA (administrative), and NCA (technical) -MGAHA (innovation budget), and
NCA (technical)
-MGAHA (innovation budget), and
NCA (technical)
Source: GIDC, Electronic Government in the “Participatory Government”
 
 
[1] See GIDC, Electronic Government in the “Participatory Government”: 36-48.
[2] The ECEG sought to reorganize the e-Government implementing system inherited from the Kim administration by gathering government-wide competence and capabilities in the Committee and enhancing the efficiency, transparency, participatory nature, and democratic workings of public administration in all aspects, including services provided for the general public. Moreover, the ECEG pursued innovations in the hierarchical and old-fashioned decision-making structure of public service and eliminated the information gaps along class and regional lines. To this end, the ECEG set up four subcommittees, each handling the innovation of working conditions, information resources, services and performance, as well as statutory consolidation. Some of the ECEG’s main projects included fostering the development of open software, developing a geographic information system, improving the Committee’s roadmap, and developing common services for e-Government. Improving the Committee’s roadmap for e-Government involved adding a number of new projects and tasks, including, among others, pursuing inter-operation of common governmental databases; reforming the certificate issuing system; evaluating the performance of e-Government projects; improving online services for the general public; and inspecting the progress of e-Government projects.

 Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.