ISSUE 50
April 2003
 
 
   
    Botswana: MP Daniel Kwelagobe Warns Public Officers
   
    India: Government Lists Year's Reforms Agenda
India: Strategic Sale of Public Sector Undertakings - Norms Laid for Management/Employee Bids
China: Why Good Government Is Necessary
India: Karnataka, Maharashtra top 'E-Readiness Index'
   
    UK: Blair Stakes Future on Public Service Reforms
   
    USA: Lawmakers: Gov's Ads No Public Service
USA: A Cry for Full-Cycle Governance - It's the Only Way to Assure Project Value
 
   
    Kenya: Kibaki Upbeat on Corruption War
Angola: Transparency Key to Long-Term Stability, ICG
South Africa: Government 'Will Stamp Out Corruption'
Nigeria: Democracy Best System of Governance -Gov Ibrahim
Nigeria: Privatization: Rush to Cover-Up Fraud by Government Officials - NEPA Workers
Nigeria: ICSR Bemoans Effect of Corruption on Nation's Economy
Zambia: Mwanawasa Renews Corruption Fight
Uganda: Local Govt Act Fuels Corruption- Report
Uganda: Iganga Joins Fight Against Corruption
South Africa: Winnie's Case Shows Mbeki is Tough On Corruption
   
    India: DCA Plans Major e-Governance Initiative
India: Kerala: E-governance Dreams Remain Unfulfilled
South Pacific: $1.8m for Good Governance
Malaysia: Admitting Mistakes Part of Good Governance, Government Departments Told
Japan: Ministers' Spat Over Decentralization Continues
India: 'Good Governance Is the Best Insurance'
China: Young People: Low Tolerance of Corruption
Asia: Recasting Governance in Asia
Malaysia: Action Plans to Combat Corruption
Bangladesh: Bangladesh Minister Blames Corruption for Ferry Disasters
   
    Romania: Romania Building £3m Super Prison to Tackle Corruption
Russia: How to Root Out Russian Corruption
Romania: US Envoy Asks Romania To Tackle Corruption
   
    Iraq: 13 Points Issued in Forum on Iraqi Governance
Iraq: USAID Awards Contract to Improve Iraqi Local Governance
   
    USA: Lawmakers Stymie Bush on Anti-Corruption Bill for Public Officials
USA: Shaw's Ten Commandments for Good Governance
   
    Parliaments Can Help Poorest Countries Achieve Good Governance
Emerging Criteria Raise Important Issues in Governance
 
   
    Ghana: Civil Servants To Enjoy New Salaries
Nigeria: Ondo PDP Frowns at Government Use of Civil Servants as Vote Canvassers
South Africa: New Prison Warders Urged to Root Out Corruption
Africa: Transparency Crucial for Nepad's Success
Botswana: BDP Pre-Vetting Eliminates 'Civil Servants'
Kenya: Civil Servants' Salaries Set for Review
Nigeria: Agagu Raises Alarm Over Plans to Flood Ondo Civil Service With New Appointments
Kenya: Civil Servants Told to Reform and Help Curb Corruption
   
    Guam (USA): We Need Same Level of Accountability from All Agencies
Australia: 400 Public Servants Told to Quit Private Firms
Malaysia: Rotation Not Affecting Sabah Civil Service
Malaysia: Civil Servants Must Understand General Orders
Brunei: Civil Servants to Get More Training on e-Government
Australia: Solomons Government Negotiates on Public Service
Australia: WA Government May Issue Cash for Public Servant Ideas
Malaysia: No Compromise on Errant Civil Servants: Musa
Malaysia: Have a Multi-Racial Civil Service
   
    Italy: Spoils System: No Removal of Civil Service Managers
UK: Depute Leader Calls for Civil Service Jobs
UK: London Exodus for Civil Servants
Greece: Hardship on April 16, But Not For Civil Servants
UK: Public service Improvements Promised by Labour
UK: Regional Inflation Data Set to Influence Public-Sector Pay
Russia: Duma Votes to Rank Civil Servants
Italy: Public Administration: First Yes from Senate for Modernisation
UK: Civil Servants May Move Out Of The Capital
UK: Region Jobs in Civil Service Move
UK: Scottish Public Spending Highest in World
UK: Thinktank Backs New Model for Public Services
   
    Israel: 6,100 Fewer Public Sector Workers in January
Iraq: Baghdad Civil Servants Mull Resuming Work
   
    USA: Janet Reno Addresses Public Service at Notre Dame
USA: Pulitzers Awarded; Boston Globe Wins for Public Service
USA: The Personnel Committee of the Hamblen County Commission Voted to Recommend to the Full Commission to Adopt the Civil Service Act for the Hamblen County Sheriff's Department
USA: Willing Public Servants Address Seniors at Forum
Barbados: Call for Public Servants to Rethink Modes of Operation
USA: Creating Effective Public Service Advertising
Canada: Exemplary Public Service - SARS: Stringent Controls Justified
Canada: Many Canadians Feel Civil Servants 'Privileged': Poll
USA: Rumsfeld Urges Overhaul of Pentagon Civil Service
USA: S&P Comments on Public Service Co of New Mexico
Antigua: Lovell Calls for Anti-corruption
USA: Local NAACP Investigates Wilmington's Civil Service Commission
 
   
    Australia: Australia Continues to Deliver on e-Government
India: MS Digital Democracy
Japan: Japan Lags Behind in E-government Programs
Brunei: Civil Servants to Get More Training on e-Government
India: S. Africa Seeks India's Aid in IT Sector
   
    UK: UK 'Must Redesign' e-Gov Sites
UK: E-government Targets Strain Council Budget
UK: KPMG e-Government Survey
UK: Bristol City Select Mayrise Management Systems for e-Government Push
EU: E-government Projects High on Agenda in Western Europe, Survey
Italy: Public Sector, Stanca: Before Year-end "Yellow Pages" of On-line Services
Italy: Stanca, A National Pact for Innovation
UK, Belgium: Global E-government
UK: E-government Needs Fixing, Warn Experts
UK: UK E-government Spending Nears Peak
UK: Skills Gap for Local e-Government
UK: New Survey Reveals State of Local e-Government
UK: Local E-government Skills Gap
UK: Netshift Tackles E-government Gap
   
    UAE: Sheikh Mohammed Urges Dubai e-Government to Encourage Greater Participation of UAE Youth
   
    USA: U.S. Gets e-Gov Bronze
USA: Lawmaker to Probe Results of Agencies' R&D Spending, e-Gov Efforts
USA: Feds to Release Latest E-Gov Plan
Canada: E-government Begins With You
USA: E-Government Resources Expand
USA: E-government Office Set Up in White House
USA: Downtown Students Put Local Government Online
Canada: Canada Leads the World in Online Government: Accenture
USA: Survey Finds Americans Split on 'E-Government'
USA: E-gov Is Easier, But Citizens Worry About Security
USA: Interior e-gov Tack Irks GIS Vendors
USA: E-gov Graduate Leads the Way
USA: Americans Embracing E-Gov Despite Privacy Concerns
USA: E-Government Plan Short on Cash
USA: E-Gov Strategy Sets Goals
USA: Maryland Adds E-gov Features to Its Medicaid System
USA: Entrust Selected to Provide E-Government Security for Labor Department
USA: Expanding E-Government
USA: Separating E-Government Hype from Reality
   
    Global E-government
 
   
    South Africa: GAMAP Realises Financial Transparency for Local Government
Nigeria: Bad Government Policies Cripple OPS - OCCIMA
   
    Japan: Regional Disparities Bypass Public Sector Pay
Korea: Index Plan May Offer Aid in Tracking Transparency
Uzbekistan: Public Finance Management Reform Project
New Zealand: Emissions Tax Will Hurt Competitiveness
   
    Yugoslavia: Public Procurement Law for Increasing Public Savings
   
    Israel: Finance Ministry Proposes 2-3-Year Temporary Public Sector Pay Cut
   
    USA: Bush Tax Policies Panders to Groups Bent on Slashing Government Spending
USA: Lawmakers Attempt To Revise Campaign Finance Law
 
   
    Nigeria: Privatization: Rush to Cover-Up Fraud By Government Officials - Nepa Workers
   
    Azerbaijan: World Bank Project "Privatization of Farms" Completed
India: India Pulls Airlines From Privatization
Guam (USA): Camacho Aims to Let Employees Compete in Privatization
Korea: A Retreat in Privatization Battle
   
    Yugoslavia: Privatization Minister Regrets the B92 Delay
   
    Saudi Arabia: Saudia Privatization to Bring In Huge Revenues
Iran: MP: Privatization Encourages Growth of Cooperatives
   
    USA: Personnel Privatization Still Concerns Some Senators
 

Botswana: MP Daniel Kwelagobe Warns Public Officers

Public officers in the Molepolole Constituency have been warned that poor service delivery which impedes government social programmes is not acceptable. Addressing a series of kgotla meetings in his constituency, Molepolole MP Daniel Kwelagobe said public officers should ensure that government policies and programmes intended to assist people are implemented without fail. Kwelagobe warned that he would not entertain a situation where government policies and programmes are failed by public servants. His comments followed Molepolole residents' complaints that government programmes were not being implemented in the constituency. They complained that civil servants were not serving them effectively, adding that some spend more time on telephones discussing personal matters than serving the people. They also complained that Village Development Committee members and home-based care programme volunteers were paid their monthly allowances late. They said sometimes they go for up to three months without pay. They argued that the situation was gradually eroding the spirit of volunteerism and self-reliance.

Kwelagobe told the meeting that these programmes had been introduced to assist people in their development efforts. Kwelagobe, who is minister for presidential affairs and public administration elaborated on government expenditure on social programmes. He said the government has P111million under the revised destitute policy, P177 million for orphan programme, P120 million for new primary schools feeding programme, P35 million for home-based care, P16 million for war veterans and P154 million for old age pensioners. The minister explained that these programmes were inline with Vision 2016's pillar of a compassionate, just and caring nation. Kwelagobe also advised residents to ask for assistance with his office in Molepolole whenever they experienced difficulties in accessing these programmes. Chief Social and Community Development Officer Peter Ntseane said shortage of staff in the Kweneng District Council contributed to the late payment of home-based care volunteers. He also said the newly introduced computerised payment system was delaying the process of payments because of frequent power cuts, and in some instances officers were not conversant with computers. Ntseane assured them that the situation would improve in the long run.

From Republic of Botswana, Botswana, 29 April 2003

 

Government Lists Year's Reforms Agenda

In an effort to push reforms, the government has prepared a list of things to do in 2003-04. It includes setting up an asset management company for handling divestments, a divestment proceeds fund, a company law tribunal and a competition commission. The repeal of SICA and the divestment of a number of public sector units, including oil marketing companies, are among the priorities. The list, drawn up by the Planning Commission and various ministries and departments, includes 176 action points covering 62 departments. While the environment and forests ministry has the longest list of ten things to do this year, agriculture and co-operation has a list of seven. This agenda, which was drawn up after the Prime Minister's call for a focused reforms programme for the fiscal, will now be forwarded to the Prime Ministers Office. The reforms list, which the PMO wanted to include feedback from stockholders, will be, in certain cases implemented on a pilot basis, followed by a scaling up after incorporating changes as and when required. While work on the priority agenda outline has been going on for around four months now, the PMO had also issued guidelines for formulating the agenda and implementation of the reform proposal. These included using the recommendations of the Govindarajan Committee Report on government regulations, identifying areas for public-private partnerships and focusing on e-governance. Ministries were asked to identify their underlying objectives and to study them to see whether they were relevant, reasonable and comprehensive from the perspective of creating a conducive, fair and enabling sectoral environment.

Policies and programmes used to achieve these objectives were then to be scrutinised to see whether they achieved the objectives in an efficient manner, without cumbersome procedures, restrictions, excessive bureaucracy or direct role of the government. The PMO had asked the ministries to list out the minimum set of regulatory concerns that needed to be addressed to achieve the objectives and to devise non-intrusive, minimalist and client friendly mechanisms to fulfil them. The PMO, in fact asked them to refer to the Govindarajan Committee Report to identify termination of unnecessary regulations. It also directed them to identify means to identify areas where conducive environment for private initiative could meet laid down objectives and to identify public private partnership approaches to provide better value for money and enhanced quality of services to the people. In addition to the priority agenda, ministries were also asked to draw up a detailed policy reform proposal with feed back from stockholders, which was to be implemented after necessary approvals. While the priority agenda has been finalised, the detailed proposal is still being worked on. The priorities: The list includes an asset management company to handle selloffs, a divestment proceeds fund, a company law tribunal, a competition commission. The repeal of SICA and the disinvestment of a number of public sector units, including oil marketing companies, are also among the priorities. The agenda was drawn up after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called for focused reforms in 2003-04.

From Rediff, India, by Mamata Singh, 8 April 2003

Strategic Sale of Public Sector Undertakings - Norms Laid for Management/Employee Bids

The Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment (CCD) approved guidelines for management-employee bids in strategic sale of public sector undertakings stating that employee participation and protection of employee interests was a key concern of the disinvestments process. As per the guidelines, if the employee bid is not the highest one, they shall be considered only if the bid is within the 10 per cent range of the highest bid. In such an event, the employee bid will have the first option for acquiring the shares under offer provided they match the highest bid which is equal to or more than the reserve price set by the Government. The shares so acquired by the employees will have a lock-in period of three years. If the employee bid is not the highest bid and there are more than one employee bids within the 10 per cent band, the highest of the employee bids will have precedence for purchase at the highest bid. However, if such employee bidder is unwilling or unable to match the highest bid, the option will pass on to the next highest employee bid and so on till all the employee bids within the 10 per cent band are exhausted. In the event of no employee bidder within the 10 per cent band, being willing or able to match the highest bid, the shares under offer will be sold to the highest bidding entity. For the purpose of evaluating employee/management bids, the term `employee' will include all permanent employees of a PSU and the whole-time directors on its board. " A bid submitted by employees or a body of employees will be called an employee bid", a Disinvestment Ministry statement said.

In order to be eligible for bidding, at least 15 per cent of the total number of employees in a PSU or 200 employees, whichever is lower, should participate in the bid. The employee bids will be exempted from the minimum turn-over criteria but will be required to qualify in terms of the prescribed net worth criterion. The employees can either bid directly and independently or, for the purpose of meeting the financial criteria like net worth, can form a consortium or bid through a joint venture or a special purpose vehicle along with a bank, venture capitalist or a financial institution. However, employees will not be permitted to form consortia with other companies. If the bidding entity of the employees is a consortium, JV or SPV, employees must have a controlling stake and be in control of the bidding entity. And, if the bid is submitted through a consortium, JV or SPV, the employees must contribute at least 10 per cent of the financial bid. If the employees form a consortium, the consortium partners would be prohibited from submitting individual bids independently. The employees bid will be required to follow the procedures prescribed for participation by Interested Parties in the process of strategic sale including, but not limited to, filing expressions of interest along with all details as applicable to other investors including furnishing of bank guarantee for payment of the purchase price. The guidelines is expected to be applied in the case of privatisation of Manganese Ore (India) Limited (MOIL) where employees have evinced interest to acquire the company from the Government.

From The Hindu Business Line, India, 17 April 2003

Why Good Government Is Necessary

Governance - the way in which decisions that affect the public interest are made -- has emerged as a key factor in determining a country's pace of development. Successful governance brings purposeful change. Failure is punished by unrest, disaffection, and stagnation. Tomorrow, a conference in Bangkok will dissect the prospects for improved governance in Asia. Today's Asian policymakers confront a very different environment from that faced by their predecessors 50 years ago. Asia's population has more than doubled since 1950, with most of that growth coming in its poorest countries. The political systems of these countries were tailored to small, static, rural populations. Now these societies must cope not only with vast urban centers, but also with the very different talents and demands of urbanized people. The global economy has changed dramatically, too. Increased flows of goods, money and knowledge around the world mean that foreign organizations and individuals become more influential, making it increasingly difficult for national governments manage their countries by themselves. For example, international bodies such as the WTO have changed the framework within which economic decisions are taken. A "back to basics" approach is vital in three inter-linked areas, in which national governments must take the lead: minimizing corruption, enforcing property rights and consistent application of the rule of law. Few countries score strongly here.

Close links between business and governments were blamed by many for the financial crisis that struck Southeast Asia in 1997. In parts of South Asia, violent conflict and the power of vested interests threaten the rule of law. The result of such failures is that small elites benefit while the majority suffers. A clear structure of formal rules is the best antidote to these flaws, for they bolster the informal customs on which so much in society depends. Most business is not conducted in courts but in meetings where trust and reputation are essential. As the social theorist Robert Putnam has explained, "social capital" - the networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate cooperation and coordination for mutual benefit - is as much a determinant as it is a result of economic growth. Empowering as many members citizens as possible is likely to instill a widespread sense of purpose into efforts to move countries forward. Government, the private sector and civil society all have a role to play in strengthening social capital. But successful interactions between these sectors cannot be wished into existence and it is essential that the role of each is clearly defined. But governments retain a role in fostering an enabling environment within which markets operate. Monitoring rules and enforcement are important, but different ways of working - say, through public-private partnerships - are also increasingly being considered in many innovative Asian economies.

The valuable role of civil society in giving voice to communities that governments cannot reach is also recognized, but its relationship with government and business is often characterized more by conflict than cooperation. The private sector's role in decision-making, too, often needs to be clarified - where businesses have too much influence over government, their need to operate profitable may lead to policies that favor the few over the many. The metaphor of a game - with rules and participants - leads many to think in terms of a competition between nations. This is not entirely healthy, as our interdependent world is not a zero-sum game, where one country's gain is another's loss. Indeed, countries do not compete against each other in the way that firms do. Trade is potentially a positive-sum game, with all countries benefiting by exploiting their areas of comparative advantage. Good governance can enhance this positive-sum game, and ensure that companies and individuals within countries partake of the benefits. In another sense, however, it is valuable to think of governments as being in competition - providing a more effective service to their people than other governments.

International comparison of systems therefore plays an important role. In this spirit, this month's joint conference with the UN Conference on Trade and Development along with the UN Development Program - "Governance in Asia: Underpinning Competitiveness in a Global Economy" - will bring together policymakers from across Asia to discuss the governance challenges that Asia faces. The role of government - the only actor possessing the legitimacy of a popular mandate - is fundamentally important in steering a society forward. The private sector and civil society are, of course, increasingly important partners for governments. How relationships among these stakeholders function will powerfully influence Asia's future development. David Bloom is professor of economics and demography at Harvard University. David Steven is a policy/strategic consultant who founded the UK-based knowledge consultancy River Path Associates. Mark Weston researches and writes on policy issues for a variety of organizations.

From Taipei Times, Taiwan, by David Bloom, David Steven and Mark Weston, 17 April 2003

Karnataka, Maharashtra top 'E-Readiness Index'

New Delhi - Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have emerged as the front-runners in the country in terms of e-preparedness composite index, while Delhi is at the top based on network access. According to 'India - E-Readiness Assessment Report 2003,' these four states come in the category of 'Leaders' while in the category of 'Least Achievers', states and UTs like Assam, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Daman and Diu, Manipur and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have been placed. The report has been prepared by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) along with NCAER for Information Technology department to see the progress of on-going e-governance programmes of the Central and State Governments. Gujarat, Goa, Delhi and Chandigarh have made it to the category of 'Aspiring Leaders' while the report has put West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala as "Expectant" states. Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Pondicherry are the "Average Achievers" while Haryana, Rajasthan, HP, Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Andaman & Nicobar Islands are the "Below Average Achievers," the E- readiness report says.

From The Hindu, India, 29 April 2003

 

Blair Stakes Future on Public Service Reforms

Tony Blair prepared for a mass revolt by Labour MPs and confrontation with the unions with a warning yesterday that he would not be swayed from his "historic" mission to reform the public services. He signalled that he would use the personal and political momentum that he built up during the Iraq war to force through policies that are proving unpopular with the party and the unions, particularly the introduction of foundation hospitals freed from some Whitehall controls. He promised to take the 1945 Welfare State settlement and "radically redraw it". Brushing aside the risk of rebellions, he declared: "It is up to the unions. They can either play a constructive part in this process or not. Now is not the time for a quiet life." For several weeks Mr. Blair and his ministers have held back the hospitals legislation, fearing that Labour MPs upset about the war would extend their rebellion to domestic policy. The Bill has been changed to make it more acceptable to some Labour MPs, and Mr. Blair and other ministers have been meeting backbenchers to try to head off revolt. Even so, it is estimated that the rebellion could be as high as 100. Mr. Blair's performance at his monthly Downing Street press conference suggested that he is ready to bite the bullet. The Bill's second reading is expected within a fortnight. Mr. Blair will deliver the same message face-to-face to Labour MPs at a meeting tomorrow in the Commons.

The Prime Minister, looking fit after a break last week at Chequers, mentioned health, education, asylum and crime as the areas of greatest challenge for Labour and the Government. "If we walk away and turn our back on reform we will not just let the Labour party down, we will let the country down. It will be a terrible mistake," he said. Mr. Blair said that it would be a mistake of "absolutely fundamental historic importance" to back away. He compared it to what he said was a similar failure by Labour in the 1970s, when the party came up with the idea of selling council houses, only for the Conservatives to implement it when they came to power. Mr. Blair voiced confidence that his September target of halving asylum applications from their peak would be met, but hinted that still tougher measures would be needed. He insisted that foundation hospitals would be NHS hospitals the same as any others. "But the difference is that we are creating a new form of not-for-profit organisation, an organisation that will be committed to serving the local community with local stakeholders on the board and crucially giving those local hospitals the freedoms they need to serve local people in the way that they choose," Mr. Blair said. "Our aim is that over time all hospitals will get the chance to be run in this way." Kevin Curran, newly elected leader of the GMB union, has warned of "huge fights" against plans to increase private company involvement in public services.

He said that it would lead to a "very divided society". Labour rebels to defy hospitals BillMore than 100 Labour rebels are preparing to defy Tony Blair when the Bill to set up foundation hospitals makes its expected return to the Commons next week. They intend to bring an amendment showing their continued resistance despite signs that some of the 124 Labour MPs who joined a Commons motion against the plans have been won over by Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary. The rebels believe that the plan to allow the best hospitals to run themselves will set them in competition for staff against the remaining hospitals. Mr. Milburn hoped to ease anxieties by saying that he wanted all hospitals to qualify for foundation status over the next five years. But one rebel said: "There is extensive feeling that this is fundamentally wrong and that it would undermine the NHS."

From The Times, UK, by Philip Webster, 29 April 2003

 

Lawmakers: Gov's Ads No Public Service

Trenton - After promising 16 months ago not to appear in state-funded television commercials, Gov. James E. McGreevey has spent $1 million on television commercials promoting a book club. In the public service announcements, McGreevey and wife Dina Matos-McGreevey exhort parents to read to children. The ads feature images of adults flipping through books with smiling youngsters. Major networks in the New York and Philadelphia markets have all carried the ads, which one industry insider said are paid and "not running between midnight and 6 a.m." That is traditionally the cheapest time to advertise on television. Assemblyman Robert Smith, D-4, of Washington Township criticized McGreevey for how the "Governor's Book Club" campaign is being promoted. "While I do not question the importance of reading to our children, I have grave concerns regarding the amount of money being spent to finance Philadelphia and New York television buys," said Smith. "Such spending undermines the credibility of the position that New Jersey is in dire financial straits - that we are desperately struggling with a $5 billion deficit." Along with television, the spots appear in print media and on radio. They will air through June, according to state officials. They come as the state is grappling with a $5 billion budget shortfall in the coming year and low state aid to municipalities was a primary factor in the defeat of up to 2 in 3 school budgets in some counties.

Statehouse observers from both political parties have said legislators are growing weary of the ad campaign. The exact cost of the spots, which have run in the New York and Philadelphia media markets, could not be ascertained. While administration figures stick close to the approximate $1 million figure, one local radio station declined to give out dollar amounts. Individual radio and television stations often do not give out information on what they charged for ads, lest they tip off competitors. McGreevey spokeswoman Ellen Mellody defended the initiative. "The ability to read is the foundation upon which the ability to learn and all opportunity is based," Mellody said. "Research has shown students are far more likely to fall behind in every subject if they do not acquire the necessary reading skills by the end of the third grade." Mellody said McGreevey backpedalled on the pledge to not appear in state-funded commercials at the behest of literacy experts. She said advisers told McGreevey the literacy campaign would be strengthened if the words came from McGreevey. Larry Litton, a professor of public relations at Rowan University and author of the book "The Public Relations Practitioners Playbook" due out July 15, said PSAs can meet a mixed fate. Those with controversial topics can fail as opposed to those presenting such innocuous topics as cancer research, he said.

Speaking about McGreevey's latest undertaking, Litwin said there are two messages contained in the ads: the surface-level literacy campaign and the deeper attempt by McGreevey to mend his image after months of bad press. "It's an image campaign. Spots like this are not in and of themselves effective," Litwin said. "However, over the long haul they become more and more effective." Research shows the commercials can be more than 50 percent effective, Litwin said. But that does not satisfy some legislators. Stung by flat aid to municipalities and a slight increase to funding for two-thirds of New Jersey's more than 600 school districts, lawmakers criticized McGreevey for the spots. "Every governor did it and this one has, too, but that doesn't make it right," said Assemblyman George Geist, R-4, of Gloucester Township. "Governors come and governors go but certain Trenton traditions endure." William Lutz, an English professor and media watcher at Rutgers University's Camden campus, said the commercials are not true PSAs, which were free in the past. "PSAs are a leftover of old (Federal Telecommunications Commission) rules that a certain amount of time had to be devoted to public service," Lutz said. "I don't think anybody ever gave a damn whether they worked or not."

From The Gloucester County Times, NJ, by Terrence Dopp (tdopp@sjnewsco.com), 17 April 2003

A Cry for Full-Cycle Governance - It's the Only Way to Assure Project Value

MIT's Peter Weill says that "an effective IT governance structure is the single most important predictor of getting value from IT," (from his paper "Don't Just Lead, Govern: Implementing Effective IT Governance," coauthored with Richard Woodham). If that's true, how do we explain the fact that many organizations have not set up governance in a way that promotes value? This question was recently posed to me by one of my clients. Even though she is responsible for her company's current governance structure, she sees it for what it really is: nothing more than a well-run project approval process, with ROI calculations, business sponsor testimonials and meetings attended by all the usual suspects. At no time has the governing body revisited an approved project in light of new information (also known as change requests), terminated a project or assessed the company's track record of value realization. Sound familiar? Let's be honest. At many companies, governance should be called "govern-once." Although there is broad agreement about what governance should be-"the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage the desirable behavior in the use of IT," as Weill puts it-in reality what passes for governance is often a one-dimensional, checklist-and attendance-based effort focused solely on project prioritization and approval. In The Information Paradox, John Thorp writes about full-cycle governance.

CIOs must ask themselves four "areas" to reach this ideal state: 1. Are we doing the right things? 2. Are we doing them the right way? 3. Are we getting them done well? 4. Are we getting the benefits? If you think about these four questions, it's easy to see that many companies focus their efforts on the first, but never address the other three concerns. Since most competent IT executives understand what governance should be, it is safe to assume that they have good reasons for not pushing harder for full-cycle governance. In my view, they don't believe the effort is justified. Without question, it's hard work to implement full-cycle governance. Many organizations have immature investment disciplines typified by a "if we build it, the value will come" approach. They will not devote the effort necessary to establish measurement systems that will sustain a focus on projects for years after they have been theoretically implemented. In addition, since the majority of CEOs believe that CIOs should be held accountable for realizing value from IT investments, it takes a lot of rewiring to get the accountability shifted to where it needs to be: the business leaders who own the three Ps of value realization-people, processes and P&L. Finally, a lot of IT types don't believe that value targeting and monitoring is practical (for example, proponents of the "ROI is dead" position). They don't want to promote a direction that seems largely theoretical.

What's more, from a payoff perspective, the link between full-cycle governance and CIO success is hard to see. CIOs understand that as long as they ensure that the right projects are selected and successfully delivered, they will not only survive but thrive. The effort required to achieve full-cycle governance is just too much for most CIOs. As a result, they limit their project management to "govern-once." These CIOs believe they can make most any project succeed as long as they have enough business sponsors, subject matter expertise and money. This belief is wrong. Business sponsorship is a weak substitute for leadership. Many CIOs don't understand that full-cycle governance is an industrial-strength solution to the eternal problem of getting the most value out of IT projects. Full-cycle governance significantly improves project success because it transforms a business project sponsor into a business project leader. Using a parenting analogy, full-cycle governance forces business leaders to raise the project as one of their own rather than send it to the IT boarding school. The promises made by business leaders on value, cost and time frames are monitored and affect future decisions about who should receive IT capital, and who should not.

This increased accountability motivates business leaders to assign their top talent, establish baseline measurement systems, manage risks, manage project scope and see changes through. Full-cycle governance induces business leaders to cascade project accountability throughout their organization rather than leaving accountability to the CIO. It's time for CIOs to reassess full-cycle governance. It can be made practical by extending the definition of project value beyond financial metrics to encompass operational metrics. Put your CEO and CFO on notice that project value is not solely the purview of the CIO. The "govern-once" mechanisms in place at most companies are only a first step-a necessary but not sufficient first step-in realizing value from IT-enabled business investments. Susan H. Cramm, former CIO and vice president of IT at Taco Bell and CFO and executive vice president at Chevys, a Taco Bell subsidiary, is president of Valuedance, an executive coaching firm based in San Clemente, Calif. She can be reached at scramm@cox.net.

From CIO, 17 April 2003

 
 

Kibaki Upbeat on Corruption War

President Kibaki is optimistic his government will win the fight against corruption. The country was firmly focused on the future and the government would strive to change the values and attitudes of Kenyans towards corruption. The President acknowledged the task was daunting, but said the government would provide the people with opportunities to enable them to live without being corrupt. He conceded there were no quick solutions to the fight but said the government had the right team in place to change people's attitudes. He spoke at State House, Nairobi, after holding talks with the chairman of the board of Transparency International, Dr Eigen Peter, who paid him a courtesy call. Dr Eigen pledged his organisation's support for the five-year anti-corruption campaign to be launched soon by the government. He said Kenya was faced with a historic opportunity to have a clean break from her dubious distinction of corruption. The official called for a holistic anti-corruption strategy, noting that the country was well placed to benefit from lessons of other countries in the fight. Present was Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Kiraitu Murungi, permanent secretary for governance and ethics John Githongo, and board members of Transparency International, Kenyan chapter, led by chairman Joe Wanjui.

From Daily Nation, Kenya, 17 April 2003

Transparency Key to Long-Term Stability, ICG

Johannesburg - UN Integrated Regional Information Networks - Any further delay in implementing meaningful political and economic reforms in Angola could undermine the country's long-term stability, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Tuesday. In its latest report, "Angola's Choice: Reform or Regress", the international think-tank warned that the government's failure to adequately address serious economic disparities among the population could threaten growth and spark localised violence. The report suggested it was in the government's interest to "move down the political reform path" by encouraging economic transparency, especially in the oil sector, and fostering the increased participation of civil society in its reconstruction efforts. "Political and economic reform ... would ensure more broad-based economic growth, allow a genuine private sector to develop, free up hundreds of millions of dollars for social investment through a more transparent budget process, transform the political system into a more pluralistic one that promotes human rights, and lay the groundwork for long-term stability." The ICG argued that the upcoming presidential elections, expected sometime between 2004 and 2006, could provide the ruling MPLA with an opportunity to improve the state's capacity to deliver goods and services to the vast majority of Angolans living in abject poverty. "It [MPLA] never previously had to rely on popular support for legitimacy, given the war-induced state of emergency ... now, in the context of open political competition, it must reach out to the civilian population to expand its support base," the report noted.

The Brussels-based group added that the government had become increasingly sensitive about its international image, suggesting that its post-war re-emergence could create a "dynamic for domestic reform". However, the report also underscored several obstacles which could frustrate economic reform efforts. Of central concern was the personal interest many officials allegedly had in maintaining the status quo. A regional analyst was quoted as saying: "The system is based on patronage. Transparency would be counter-productive." The lack of a unified commitment to serious change among the senior leadership of the MPLA could also delay the implementation of reforms, the report alleged. Nevertheless, there were elements within the government and civil society that wanted to liberalise the political system and make the economy more transparent. ICG Africa Programme Co-director John Prendergast told IRIN: "There are strong voices within the government that want to pursue a more robust economic reform agenda. The incentive driving reform advocates is to access multilateral debt relief and lending that would reduce the country's onerous debt burden and decrease the cost of borrowing significantly, thus enhancing the ability of the government to underwrite important domestic investment initiatives." Prendergast added that economic diversification was imperative for reform. Oil accounts for 90 percent of exports and 80 percent of tax revenues in Angola. The ICG recommended that the agricultural sector be given a higher priority, not only for immediate recovery, but also for obtaining the longer-term benefits of diversification.

The authorities should work with the US government to qualify for participation in the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), tariff-free trade agreement. "Quiet engagement and partnership, especially by donors and oil companies, is the most effective way to influence government reform positively. The government's strong desire for a donor's conference in 2003 also offers a significant opportunity to engage and support the reform process," Prendergast said. But improved accountability was key to economic recovery, the report noted. "The central problem in Angola's management of [the] economy is that portion of oil wealth that goes unaccounted for." Transparency International ranked Angola third from last in its 2002 Corruption Perception Index. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently accused the government of siphoning off around US $1 billion in oil revenues in 2002, and over US $4 billion during the last five years. The ICG also highlighted the need for political pluralism, saying further support was needed to strengthen civil society groups. This would buttress their capacity to hold government accountable on public welfare, economic reform, human rights and democracy issues. "The support of peace by civil society organisations was substantial and effective. It holds a great deal of potential for doing the same on the political and economic reform agendas. To have a greater impact, however, will require greater coherence and organisation than exists presently. But the elements are there for this to happen," Prendergast said. The report recommended that donors fully fund an agricultural assistance programme in advance of the September 2003 planting season. Additionally, it encouraged donors to provide increased assistance for political party development.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 8 April 2003

Government 'Will Stamp Out Corruption'

Cape Town - The government remains committed to fighting corruption with all the weapons it has, or can develop, says Public Service Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. "Our public servants know... they will be brought to book if they abuse their positions," she said, during a special debate in the National Assembly on Monday. The culture of no fear that had developed in some provinces had come to an end and, with interventions in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere, the government had shown that those who abused their positions would be caught, she said. "You can expect to see many more arrests and disciplinary charges." However, corruption was a partnership between people who sought favours and those who accepted inducement to perform a corrupt deed, and the solution had to take this into account. The government could not be expected to solve the problem alone. The partnership should involve unions, civil society, business, professional associations and patriotic citizens. "It is time for professional bodies and unions to engage in a campaign of education and information. 'Zero-tolerance approach needed' "It is time for all those who come across corruption to use hotlines and make representation to the honourable members of this house," said Fraser-Moleketi.

The Democratic Alliance's Raenette Taljaard said only tough action and a zero-tolerance approach could address the perception of widespread corruption in South Africa. "This is the key challenge confronting the government. "For example, while the clouds of suspicion remain around the deputy president (Jacob Zuma), the government's moral regeneration campaign will face a credibility crisis and feed into existing negative perceptions," she said. Zuma has denied allegations that he solicited a bribe from a company linked to the arms deal. In fighting corruption perceptions, Taljaard said, it was imperative to act against high-profile leaders who fell foul of acceptable standards of conduct. She called for a code of executive ethics and a "cooling-off period" for members of the cabinet, as well as clear and tough new sanctions for MPs who brought the house into disrepute. "While the foundations have been laid, South Africa is still an anti-corruption construction site. "The fight against corruption is a fight that must be waged on two fronts. We need to ruthlessly deal with incidents of corruption when and wherever they occur. "But, perhaps even more crucially, we need to combat the insidious and damaging perceptions of the levels of corruption that exist in South Africa," said Taljaard.

From News24, South Africa, 15 April 2003

Democracy Best System of Governance -Gov Ibrahim

Abuja - Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim of Yobe State, Saturday in Goniri, the headquarters of Gotala local government area, joined other Nigerians in voting for the candidate of his choice for the nations national assembly seat. Governor Bukar Abba who cast his vote at exactly 10.46 a.m. at the Fulatari ward polling station in Goniri, his home town, described democracy as the best system of governance. He told journalists shortly after casting his vote, that politicians and their supporters should shun politics of hatred and violence so as to enhance the success of our nascent democracy in the country. The governor also challenged the operators of the system to always adopt what he called -an "open door policy" which gives peoples confidence in their elected representatives at all levels. Citing the case of Nigeria as an example, Governor Bukar said the country has suffered greatly under a long military dictatorship and the only viable alternative is democracies that will open doors for the people to actively participate is the decision-making process. He opined that it is the policy of his government to involve each and every one in the day-to-day affairs of his administration because of his firm conviction in participatory democracy. He regretted that the art of governance is today being run through the media to the detriment of involving the people in decision making adding that this has always been responsible for unhealthy democratic practices.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 15 April 2003

Privatization: Rush to Cover-Up Fraud by Government Officials - NEPA Workers

Lagos - National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has alleged that government's rush to privatise the National Power Authority (NEPA) is a ploy to cover-up the fraud and loot perpetrated by top government officials and challenged all the presidential candidates to the forthcoming general election to tell Nigerians what they want to do with NEPA as well as provide stable power supply to Nigerians. NUEE warned that besides protecting the interest of its members, as civil society group interested in the well being of all Nigerians, the union would mobilise all patriotic Nigerians against any pro-Privatisation leader as the programme is anti-people imposed on Nigeria by the Bretton Wood Institutions. A statement by the union's Deputy General Secretary, Comrade O. A. Sobowale lamented that the present Obasanjo led government started well but later derailed under influences from lender nations and their local collaborators. The statement said: "When the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration took the saddle of leadership it moved in this direction but a few months later, it capitulated in the opposite direction-towards privatisation. Why was this so? What happened? There are three fundamental reasons we can offer to explain this. First, the administration pandered to the external pressures of lending agencies that are increasingly pushing for privatisation throughout the Third world. Second, the administration lacked the political will to deal with the monumental corruption that had taken place in NEPA, neither did it have the courage to bring the culprits to book. Enormous unaccounted amounts were stolen from NEPA, and nothing is being said about this either by the President or the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). Thirdly, and not the least, the government has never put in place a Board with unimpeachable integrity, patriotism and dedication to duty, such that will be able to tackle the problems of NEPA. Without fear of thoughtful contradiction, the Technical Board put in place by the present administration became not only part of the problem, but the biggest problem of NEPA.

The other problems include, poor maintenance and turn around culture, obsolete equipment, poor tariff collection from clientele which include the Presidency, the Army and the Police, and illegal vandalisation of NEPA equipment. That has been the history of NEPA. And we challenge any decent administration to ask the books to be opened, Nigerians will be shocked, because they will discover the truth. The attempt to rush to privatise NEPA is meant to cover-up the fraud and loot of some sacred cows." "The Government, through the BPE, and with orchestrated indignation, has been wasting taxpayers' money on ill-informed blackmail and propaganda in the media directed against NEPA on the so-called issue of non-performance. The key problem of NEPA is what is euphemistically referred to as public sector corruption. Even the Presidency and National Assembly suffer from it., numerous scandals reported in the media daily, will suffice in this regard. The goal should be how to rid the public sector of corruption and not how to privatise all its strategic components. This should be the cardinal objective of the new Board of NEPA and not how to prepare NEPA for privatiation". According to him, "our immediate reason for this statement is to put all the twenty (20) Presidential candidates on alert and to urge them to publicly state their position on the privatisation of public enterprises and in particular their position on NEPA. Our perusal of the manifestoes of the political parties available to us does not suggest that any of them is willing to pursue privatisation of NEPA, this is not to say that they will not encourage private sector growth.


We do however know that, in the Nigerian context, there is party manifesto and there is personal manifesto, many elected politicians do not follow the programmes outlined by their political parties." "We want to know what the personal political manifesto of each Presidential candidate is, beyond what was said during the Presidential debate. This becomes crucial for two reasons. First, as an interest group and a trade union, and above all as part of the electorate, we are interested in what concern our members and what concern or touch the interest of other citizens of Nigeria. This is quite legitimate and consistent with the principles of democracy. Second, beyond our franchise, we are going to embark on full-scale mobilisation for or against any leader who is pro-privatisation, this is because the programme is anti-people. This is not misplaced sentiment or undue patriotism. Most certainly, the privatisation of NEPA is an anti-poor people policy. Experiences of Third world countries, particularly in the energy sector, in Cote D'Voire, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea have proven this." The union added: "It is for the foregoing reasons that we urge all the Presidential candidates of all the 20 political parties in contention, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), National Conscience Party (NCP), and United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), among many others to make a disclaim to this statement or specifically tell us where they stand or what they intend to do about NEPA genuinely salvage it or criminally auction it.?" "The implication of not responding to this statement, inadvertently knocks out the moral basis of the pursuit of the privatisation of NEPA by any victorious aspirant, post-election. But, should this happen, our Union is well-advised about what to do."

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Victor Ahiuma-Young, 15 April 2003

ICSR Bemoans Effect of Corruption on Nation's Economy

The Institute of Certified Secretaries and Reporters (ICSR) on Monday expressed deep concern about the damaging effect of corruption in the nation's economic and political arena, and called on all concerned to demonstrate integrity in their occupations and professional actions. Briefing newsmen at Ikeja, Lagos on its forthcoming International Secretaries and Official Reporters' Day Celebration, the Registrar-General of the Institute, Samuel Ozomah said that demonstrating integrity by people in their occupation and professional actions was the only way to eliminate corruption in the body polity of the nation. According to him, ethnic crisis, assassinations, armed robbery, and all ills bedeviling humanity were rooted in the lack of transparency, adding that whenever people failed to see, know and understand what went on around them, they felt insecured. "We are therefore appealing to professionals to embrace transparency and integrity in their action", he advised, while calling on the National Assembly to go ahead and enact the law that would regulate the ICSR profession. "The Bill on ICST, which had been considered by the House of Representatives should be signed". Ozomah, who said the Institute was also concerned with the success of the fourth democratic experiment, urged the National and State Assemblies to show their represented constituents what they were doing at either the federal or state capitals by way of funding hansard publication. "We also want the Judiciary to base Judgements not only on rule of law but also on transparent facts of the case by using the services of verbatim reporters", he stated.

From Daily Times of Nigeria, by Kazeem Ugbodaga, 15 April 2003

Mwanawasa Renews Corruption Fight

Lusaka - Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has stepped up his anti-corruption crusade by banning cabinet ministers and senior officials from bidding for government contracts, a move cheered by civil society groups. "If you [government ministers] feel business is more important for you, it is better for you to resign as you cannot have it both ways [do business and serve government]," Mwanawasa said at a campaign rally on Sunday in eastern Zambia. He vowed to sack any government officials using their positions to win government contracts. "I think this is a bold step by the president once again, as far as the corruption fight is concerned. As the church, we welcome this but our main concern is whether this government has the capacity to know whether a guy who has bid and won a tender is a friend or relative of a cabinet minister ... has President Mwanawasa done enough research? That is our concern," Reverend Japheth Ndlovu, general-secretary of the influential Christian Council of Zambia (CCZ) told IRIN. Mwanawasa has spearheaded a drive against graft since coming to power in December 2001. His renewed vow to weed out corruption has come barely a week after Vice-President Enoch Kavindele was allegedly linked to two multi-million dollar business deals.

Kavindele was said to be connected to a company contracted as the sole importer of crude oil to Zambia, Trans-Sahara Trading (TST), and the South African cellular phone provider, Vodacom. He has denied involvement in either case, but said his son had direct dealings with the companies. Mwanawasa has since used his presidential powers to terminate prematurely the TST deal, news reports said. Kelvin Kaleyi, a Zambian business journalist, said stopping politicians dabbling in business would take more than an appeal to their sense of ethics: "Most of the ministers and top government officials in Zambia are businessmen and -women by background. Nothing will stop them from giving friends or relatives tips of what tender is coming up and the easiest way to win it. To me it's a futile fight, but a good effort nevertheless." While Mwanawasa's corruption crusade has been generally welcomed - domestically and by international donors - his presidency remains mired in controversy over the conduct of the 2001 election. The Supreme Court is hearing a petition by opposition parties in which top former officials have testified that tax payers' money was used to illegally fund Mwanawasa's campaign. But Mwanawasa has not been distracted. Arrest warrants have been issued against former president Frederick Chiluba and senior figures in his administration, which ruled Zambia for 10 years - an era known as the "decade of plunder".

From UN Regional Information Africa, Africa, 15 April 2003

Local Governmentt Act Fuels Corruption- Report

Kampala - The 1997 Local Government Act greatly contributes to corruption in the districts, the 2003 National Integrity Survey report states. The report launched last week recommended a wide range of amendments to the act, particularly the appointments of the District Tender Board, the District Service Commission (DSC) and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The survey done by K2-Consult said Section 55(2) of the Act undermines the neutrality of the DSC by vesting the appointment of its members in the District Council. "In view of this, it is recommended that the DSC be independent and appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) from names submitted by the LC3 or Divisions within each district," it stated. The report said the appointment of the CAO by the DSC deprives the CAO of job security and makes his/her work vulnerable to political influence. "In order to avoid such problems and to streamline the district administrations, the CAO should be appointed by the PSC on merit and should be transferable by the PSC. "The CAO as head of public service in the district should be able to advise the DSC and the District Council without fear or favour," the report said. The Inspector General of Government, Jotham Tumwesigye, unveiled the report to journalists recently.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by John Eremu, 22 April 2003

Iganga Joins Fight Against Corruption

Kampala - Iganga Deputy RDC James Nabesha has said his office will support NGOs in the fight against corruption in the district. Mr. Nabesha was speaking at an annual general meeting for Iganga Poverty Action Monitoring Committee (PMC) at the district council hall recently. The meeting was monitored by a team from the Uganda Debt Network (UDN). "Approach us. We shall summon the corrupt officials in Iganga," Nabesha said. The Uganda Debt Network assistant co-ordinator, Basil Kandyomunda urged Ugandans to always monitor and demand for accountability of government money disbursed to their districts. "It is your right to demand for accountability. We need transparency and everybody should fight corruption in Uganda," Mr. Kandyomunda said. UDN and PMC are structures that work together to monitor public expenditure and all government programmes to eradicate poverty.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 22 April 2003

Winnie's Case Shows Mbeki is Tough On Corruption

The South African government seems to be serious in its fight against corruption in high places, if the sentencing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her broker on dozens of counts of fraud and theft on Thursday is anything to go by. Yesterday, a court sentenced Madikizela-Mandela to five years in jail with one year suspended, a day after her conviction. The prosecution had said a jail sentence was appropriate, but said the court should consider her age. It was the latest blow for a politician called "the Mother of the Nation" for her fight against apartheid during her former husband Nelson Mandela's 27 years in jail. She was found guilty on 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft. Her broker was convicted on 58 counts of fraud and 25 of theft. Though Madikizela-Mandela remains popular among the poor, her reputation has been tarnished by a series of legal problems. The most serious was her conviction in 1991 of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault in connection with the death of Stompie Seipei, 14, a township activist. Her six-year jail sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal. On being sentenced yesterday, Madikizela-Mandela immediately resigned from parliament and from her post as the head of the Women's League of the ruling African National Congress.

She becomes the second high-ranking ANC member to be jailed, following Tony Yengeni's imprisonment for four years for fraud in a case seen as a test of the government's commitment in the fight against corruption. Yengeni, the former ANC parliamentary chief whip, admitted defrauding parliament and was acquitted on a more serious charge of corruption last February, after cutting a deal with the state when his defence team pulled out. Yengeni, like Madikizela-Mandela, resigned his parliamentary seat earlier last month. The former anti-apartheid guerrilla leader resigned as chief whip in 2002 over another scandal. Although Yengeni protested his innocence, there was no government interference with the judiciary to absolve him of any wrongdoing, as has become common this side of the Limpopo. Zimbabwe's economy is limping along because of people set free even if they are guilty of corruption and fraud. Take the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe case, for instance. Many managers in that State-owned fuel procurement outfit have appeared in court facing extremely serious charges, but nothing has been done to them. This is despite the existence of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Many prominent businessmen and politicians have been arrested or tried under that Act, but few have been convicted.

Only a handful have resigned on their own when the scandals surfaced. That, to Zanu PF, is enough prosecution. They do not continue investigations once a minister accused or embroiled in graft steps down. To the people that is just not enough. The long arm of the law should be allowed to take its inexorable course. But the reason for the inaction is simple. The top politicians interfere with the judicial process. Examples abound of this interference. Professionals like axed Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay and the Attorney-General, Andrew Chigovera, who has been pressured to resign, are living proof that Zanu PF leaders do not accept the rule of law. These two high-ranking officials were forced out because Zanu PF found them unyielding. Their victimisation gives the lie to any attempts by Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo to make the world believe things are back to normal in Zimbabwe. If anything, the situation is deteriorating by the day. The country has no foreign currency, fuel, basic essentials and the rule of law has been overtaken by lawlessness - all because of corruption, nepotism, cronyism, mismanagement and ineptitude. Whatever his faults, Mbeki shows he is firmly committed to the fight against corruption - unlike his counterpart this side of the Limpopo.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 28 April 2003

 

DCA Plans Major e-Governance Initiative

Bangalore - The Department of Company Affairs (DCA) will be undertaking an e-governance project to make available all its services on the Internet in an interactive manner, the DCA Secretary, Mr. Vinod Kumar Dhall, said today. Speaking at an interactive session organised by the Greater Mysore Chamber of Industry here, he said that it had been proposed to implement the Rs 90-crore project, to be completed in about a year, as part of a public-private initiative. The information technology department had already engaged a consultant to prepare a detailed report on the initiative, he informed. Seeking to allay apprehensions about the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, Mr. Dhall said this body would only investigate high-profile and complex cases of corporate fraud where large amounts were involved. The office, which would be operational shortly, would function through multi-disciplinary teams under the ambit of the Companies Act. Also, the help of outside agencies could be sought for investigation, Mr. Dhall said, adding that if required a new law concerning serious fraud could be considered. The National Competition Law tribunal with Benches in different parts of the country was in the process of being set up and initially a small team would be set up as a nucleus that would later be expanded.

From Business Line, India, 7 April 2003

Kerala: E-governance Dreams Remain Unfulfilled

Thiruvananthapuram: One of the major State Government initiatives in ushering in e-governance revolves around the computerisation of treasury, civil supplies and land records. Three years into the process, e-governance is still miles away from being realised. A status paper of the State Planning Board provides invaluable insights into major e-governance and IT initiatives in Government. The status paper reveals gaps in field level implementation and in taking timely decisions. The result: promises remain unfulfilled. Computerisation of Government Departments in Kerala started in the late 1980s as part of an attempt to improve internal efficiency. In 1999, the Task Force on IT implementation in Government suggested that the focus should shift to citizen interface and utilisation of information communication technology tools for administrative reforms. Subsequently, the State Government decided to commit 3 per cent of its budgetary allocation for implementing IT in Government. Some of the departments completed system study, application software development, and preparation of database and data entry, not to mention pilot deployment. Huge funds have already been spent on IT development by these departments and large amounts would be required in the coming years to ensure they provide meaningful services. One of the major issues of concern is that the Government has not conceived the post-implementation support required for its e-governance proposals.

The treasury computerisation project began in 1997 and the development phase in currently under way. The pilot project is being implemented in Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta and the first-level training for department staff has been completed. The Government has spent Rs. 10.57 crores on treasury computerisation between 1998-99 and 2001-02. During the current financial year (2002-03), the amount spent is Rs. 9.35 crores till January 15, 2002 and an additional Rs. 3 crores would be required additionally. The department has asked for Rs. 10 crores for meeting its commitments on balance payments, additional equipment, and equipment maintenance and for consumables. The treasury project had originally envisaged networking of offices, but it is now confined to individual office automation. The status paper observed the department had sought Rs. 10 crores for the coming year. This was inflated, as procurement would be completed during the current year. The department has also not given the break-up for the Rs. 10 crores it has sought. With regard to land records, the status paper reveals that 84 per cent of the data entry has been completed and computers have been purchased for Collectorates and taluk offices. Data entry of 89,87,430 records has been completed. The department has so far received Rs. 8.68 crores for the project. Of this, Rs. 5 crores has been distributed to District Collectors and Rs. 77 lakhs to the Director of Survey and Land records.

The Government has decided to provide computerised records of rights to the public with the balance amount of Rs. 3 crores. This year, the Government released just Rs. 61 lakhs for this. The department has entered data in Unix platform. Now it wants to change to the Windows platform, besides updating the data already entered. The status paper favoured discontinuing the issuance of records of rights as the existing database has become outdated, but wanted the LR department to focus on digitising village records and basic land records, including basic tax register and 'Thandaper' register, which ensures ownership. Since computerisation in this area has taken place to a large extent, the status paper points out the need to install a mechanism to update the existing database, with a cut-off date. Annual updating would be necessary till the computerisation of the Registration Department was over and the two databases are linked, it said. Computerisation has fallen by the way side because there was no standardisation of computer packages, the status paper pointed out. It has also suggested inducting electronic survey equipment, which can generate digital sketches.

This is now being tried out in four districts. But the Planning Board has suggested that such initiatives be confined to one district as a model project. The Registration Department was put on the highway of computerisation by an expert committee, which recommended the CARD project in Andhra Pradesh. Accordingly, four sub-registry offices were selected for implementation of the Package of Effective Administration of Registration Laws, developed by the NIC during 1999-2000. So far 114 out of the 308 SROs in the State have been computerised. The Registration Department received funds from the IT Department and under Plan allocation totalling Rs. 4.8 crores, of which it has spent 4.4 lakhs. Another Rs. 16 crores would be required to computerise the remaining SROs. The key issue is whether higher user fee can be levied for services like issuing of encumbrance certificates. The Planning Board feels that a nominal hike in rates would make this project self-reliant to cover further stages of computerisation and maintenance.

From Keralanext, India, 29 March 2003

$1.8m for Good Governance

University of the South Pacific Vice Chancellor Savenaca Siwatibau says small Pacific nations face many hurdles that impede development and investment and bring poverty and dissatisfaction to many. These problems include bad development management, government instability, corruption, internal political shocks, political insecurity and ill-informed communities, bad leadership and decision-making and poor financial management and poor management of natural resources. "The university has a role to play in addressing these issues through its academic training programmes, community information, research and partnerships, and its good governance programme," Mr. Siwatibau said. Towards this end the European Union (EU) has given $1.8 million to help promote good governance in the Pacific region. The funding will be provided over three years to the USP to help establish and promote good governance through education, research and training. A Memorandum of Agreement between the EU and the USP was signed yesterday for the project titled "Transforming Our Communities Through Good Governance". The project aims to establish the USP as resource base for good governance with three distinct components - research and academic programmes; promoting public information in democracy and electoral governance; and establishing a good governance knowledge resource base. Mr. Siwatibau said: "It will enhance the existing good governance programme at the USP, develop a more politically aware community and establish an electoral training mobile unit. "It will make the USP a centre for democracy in the world movement for democracy and, more critically, develop the research capacity of the university in the area of good governance."

From The Daily Post, 17 April 2003

Admitting Mistakes Part of Good Governance, Government Departments Told

Malacca: Law enforcement agencies have been reminded to admit their mistakes as part of good governance practice, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. One good example, he said, was the action taken by Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had directed the Foreign Ministry to apologise to India over shortcomings in handling a group of Indian nationals during a police raid recently, he said. "This is part of the good governance practice," he told reporters after opening a two-day national workshop on "Good Governance Among Law Enforcement Agencies" here on Sunday night. He said amendments would be made to include good governance practices into the Criminal Procedure Code and the public would be able to get feedback on the complaints they lodged with government agencies. The Attorney-General's Chambers had started work on drafting the amendment to include good governance to be adhered to by law enforcement agencies, he said.

Currently, the law did not have any coverage on such area, he pointed out. Citing an example, Dr Rais said a member of public would not know the status of a police report he lodged some time ago as there was no provision in law requiring the enforcement agencies to keep the complainant informed. The same also applied to complaints lodged with the Anti-Corruption Agency and complaints lodged at counter service of government agencies. "The public would not know whether the complaint is still being investigated, or the matter has been closed and they have no one to ask," he said. Dr Rais also said he hoped that he would be able to table the proposals to amend the Code at the Parliament meeting in June. About 80 participants from Home Ministry, Health Ministry, Road Transport Department, Fire and Rescue Department, police, Anti-Corruption-Agency, Customs and Excise Department, City Hall and other departments took part in the workshop.

From Star, Malaysia, 14 April 2003

Ministers' Spat Over Decentralization Continues

A dispute among ministers over who said what concerning ways to boost local authorities' independence continued Friday, with the public management minister criticizing the finance minister. Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa "is angry for a misunderstanding that he has only himself to blame for," Toranosuke Katayama, minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, told reporters. "He is an elder member and should be on the side of settling issues, not that of complicating things," he said. Earlier in the week, Shiokawa accused economic and fiscal policy minister Heizo Takenaka of distorting what Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said over the contentious issue of ways to promote decentralization. Shiokawa said Takenaka inaccurately quoted the prime minister when he told reporters Tuesday that the transferring of a tax collection role to local authorities from the central government should spearhead the debate. Takenaka, however, repeated Friday that the prime minister mentioned the issue in a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the government's top policy-setting panel, which was attended both by Takenaka and Shiokawa.

The prime minister said, "We will transfer tax revenue sources" to local governments from the central government, Takenaka said at a news conference. Decentralization is a touchy matter for the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications and the Finance Ministry, which are sharply divided over ways to achieve that goal. The public management ministry, which oversees local governments, wants the central government to swiftly transfer tax collection to local authorities. But the Finance Ministry, which wants to ensure stable revenue for state coffers, wants to couple any such move with reductions in subsidies to local governments. At a separate news conference, Shiokawa said he is willing to shift the role of tax collector to local authorities, but that should come only if they take on administrative duties that are currently performed by the central government. "I think it would be good if the transfer of both administrative power and fiscal sources are carried out in parallel over a period of about three years," he said.

From Japan Today, Japan, 3 April 2003

'Good Governance Is the Best Insurance'

The Indian CFO needs to be cash flow-driven and find mitigants for market, industry and business risks to ensure there are no violent swings in performance says D P Roy, chairman, SBI Cap. Excerpts from an interview with Manisha Singh. How can Indian CFOs rejig their strategies in the current slowdown? In the slowdown phase, corporates need to economise on overheads, divest unrelated activities and grow in core areas. They should also examine opportunities for going global to achieve fuller capacity utilisation to improve margins. However, they should now think of strategies to ride the upturn, which seems to be lurking around. With the stock markets down, what avenues are available for companies to raise finances? Companies can raise finance by debt /quasi-equity instruments. They can also look for private equity. The need for additional funding can be reduced by accessing the asset-backed securitisation market. What are the principles of good corporate governance? Good corporate governance requires transparency and information sharing to the extent required with all constituencies - shareholders, employees and clients. This is the best insurance for managing reputation risk.

The board has to be truly independent and comprise professionals from varied disciplines having directorships well below the maximum number of companies permitted. Audit committees should be chaired by a CA (chartered accountant) and there should not be any executive director on this committee. Directors should have no direct/indirect connection with the company or its executives. They should be rotated every five years and should not receive any remuneration except sitting fees. They should also have a say on what matters to present, in addition to the agenda submitted. In the balance sheet, apart from the number of meetings held, aggregate time spent by directors in their deliberations should figure. What are the opportunities available for Indian companies looking at raising finance from other countries? Indian firms can look at both debt and equity options from other countries. They need to diversify their debt into multi-currencies, which will provide some natural hedge. Companies also need to use concessionary export credit finance, now being extended in rupees by some countries.

From Economic Times, India, 18 April 2003

Young People: Low Tolerance of Corruption

The idea of the young as rebellious and immoral is not borne out by the facts, say Pat Dade, director of research at customer profiling firm Risk Values (www.riskvalues.com). "Young people do commit crime and they do experiment with a range of sexual and anti-social activities but the picture of young people as a generally troubled and troubling group is due to the extreme activities of a few and not the general behaviour of the many," said Dade. This is particularly true in relation to financial crime, it seems. Fraud and corruption is rarely committed by the under 25s - if they commit crime at all, and the vast majority do not (if we exclude motoring offences and those of gaining entry to age-limited premises), they commit offences such as theft, motor related crime and drugs related crime. "The graphs for propensity to commit financial crime are like Monty Python's dinosaur - 'thin at one end, fat in the middle and thin at the other end', " said Dade. This would not surprise the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption which has analysed its prosecutions over the past three years: "only about six per cent were aged 25 or below," says ICAC Commissioner Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong. Indeed, he cites the case of a young whistle blower in which a supervisor, who had embezzled company funds, attempted to offer monetary rewards to a young subordinate to hush the matter up. The subordinate had not only refused the offer but reported the case to the ICAC.

This does not surprise Les Higgins - Director of Analysis at Risk Values: "young people adopt stronger ethical and moral philosophical positions that their elders. I'm talking about the big issues, like corruption, war, the environment, etc. That's not to say that youngsters don't get involved in crime - but it tends to be much more opportunistic or adrenalin (or other chemical) based stuff - or they get brought up in a criminal/violent culture and simply mirror the behaviour of their elders." That matches the opinions of Commissioner Lee who says that more than 700 tertiary students from Hong Kong, the Mainland, Macau and Singapore who took part in the Youth Summit entitled "Corporate Governance for the New Generation" last month expressed a fervant desire for a clean and fair society. Lee says that, when presented with the opportunity for corruption, people should look at what they are being invited to do against three measureing sticks: "He says one needs to be sure whether a contemplated course of action will violate the laws such as the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance; check whether it will breach company or professional codes of conduct; and measure his decision against his personal values." Risk Values' Dade agrees: but with a note of caution "the problem of knowing what is right and wrong is often not a matter simply of knowing the law - it is a matter of basic morality. And that is something that shifts from time to time. Also, people instinctively know what is right but their judgement is often tempered by what is accepted or even tolerated."

From World Money Laundering Report, UK, 22 April 2003

Recasting Governance in Asia

The role of government - the only actor possessing the legitimacy of a popular mandate - is fundamentally important in steering a society forward. The private sector and civil society are, of course, increasingly important partners for governments. How relationships among these stakeholders function will powerfully influence Asia's future development. Governance-the way in which decisions that affect the public interest are made-has emerged as a key factor in determining a country's pace of development. Successful governance brings purposeful change. Failure is punished by unrest, disaffection, and stagnation. Today's Asian policymakers confront a very different environment from that faced by their predecessors fifty years ago. Asia's population has more than doubled since 1950, with most of that growth coming in its poorest countries. The political systems of these countries were tailored to small, static, rural populations. Now these societies must cope not only with vast urban centres, but also with the very different talents and demands of urbanized people. The global economy has changed dramatically, too. Increased flows of goods, money, and knowledge around the world mean that foreign organizations and individuals become more influential, making it increasingly difficult for national governments manage their countries by themselves. For example, international bodies such as the WTO have changed the framework within which economic decisions are taken. Local economic change has been equally dramatic. In parts of Asia, living standards have skyrocketed.

Foreign investment from within and outside the region has altered the structure of domestic economies. Old models of economic growth, however, such as export orientation and selective use of import restrictions that worked well for East Asia in the last century, are less feasible under today's global trade rules. So new rules of the game are needed. In most Asian countries, formal rules need to be simplified and applied more fairly. A "back to basics" approach is vital in three inter-linked areas, in which national governments must take the lead: minimizing corruption, enforcing property rights, and consistent application of the rule of law. Few countries score strongly here. Close links between business and governments were blamed by many for the financial crisis that struck Southeast Asia in 1997. In parts of South Asia, violent conflict and the power of vested interests threaten the rule of law. The result of such failures is that small elites benefit while the majority suffers. A clear structure of formal rules is the best antidote to these flaws, for they bolster the informal customs on which so much in society depends. Most business is not conducted in courts but in meetings where trust and reputation are essential. As the social theorist Robert Putnam has explained, "social capital"-the networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate cooperation and coordination for mutual benefit-is as much a determinant as it is a result of economic growth.

Empowering as many members citizens as possible is likely to instill a widespread sense of purpose into efforts to move countries forward. Government, the private sector, and civil society all have a role to play in strengthening social capital. But successful interactions between these sectors cannot be wished into existence, and it is essential that the role of each is clearly defined. Many Asian governments recognize the need to define their roles more clearly. Following the 1997 crisis, the state withdrew further from markets, acknowledging the limits to what it can achieve and the importance of allowing private enterprise to flourish. But governments retain a role in fostering an enabling environment within which markets operate. Monitoring rules and enforcement are important, but different ways of working - say, through public-private partnerships - are also increasingly being considered in many innovative Asian economies. The valuable role of civil society in giving voice to communities that governments cannot reach is also recognized, but its relationship with government and business is often characterized more by conflict than cooperation. The private sector's role in decision-making, too, often needs to be clarified - where businesses have too much influence over government, their need to operate profitable may lead to policies that favour the few over the many. The metaphor of a game - with rules and participants - leads many to think in terms of a competition between nations.

This is not entirely healthy, as our interdependent world is not a zero-sum game, where one country's gain is another's loss. Indeed, countries do not compete against each other in the way that firms do. Trade is potentially a positive-sum game, with all countries benefiting by exploiting their areas of comparative advantage. Good governance can enhance this positive-sum game, and ensure that companies and individuals within countries partake of the benefits. In another sense, however, it is valuable to think of governments as being in competition - providing a more effective service to their people than other governments. International comparison of systems therefore plays an important role. In this spirit, this month's UNCTAD-UNDP conference - "Governance in Asia: Underpinning Competitiveness in a Global Economy" - will bring together policy-makers from across Asia to discuss the governance challenges that Asia faces. The role of government - the only actor possessing the legitimacy of a popular mandate - is fundamentally important in steering a society forward. The private sector and civil society are, of course, increasingly important partners for governments. How relationships among these stakeholders function will powerfully influence Asia's future development. David Bloom is Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard University; David Steven is a policy/strategic consultant who founded River Path Associates, a UK-based knowledge consultancy; Mark Weston researches and writes on policy issues for a variety of organizations.

From Daily Times, Pakistan, by David Bloom, David Steven & Mark Weston, 24 April 2003

Action Plans to Combat Corruption

A national survey has been completed to pave the way for recommendations on formulating strategies to strengthen integrity and combat corruption at all levels of government. Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Director-General Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor said the Government-funded survey conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) covered 7,594 respondents throughout the nation. However, he was unable to reveal the recommendations since the ACA was still in the process of studying them. He was speaking to reporters after the opening of the national Integrity Management Committee (IMC) Secretariat meeting at Pacific Wing Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa here, Monday. Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman officiated at the opening. Zulkipli said all the 25 Federal ministries were required to set up their own IMCs, as well as district-level IMCs in the respective states. The feedback from these committees would be channelled to the ACA as the national co-ordinating body, which in turn would forward it to the Government. Among results from the IMC was the monthly meet-the-client sessions. "The committee is related closely to etiquette laws÷by firmly implementing the IMC orders we can solve internal problems," he said. Zulkipli said the IMC had also attracted the attention of many other countries, which had expressed interest to emulate and incorporate the system into their government administration.

From Daily Express, Malaysia, 28 April 2003

Bangladesh Minister Blames Corruption for Ferry Disasters

Dhaka - Shipping Minister Akbar Hossain blamed corruption and red tape for ferry accidents in Bangladesh and said he was planning new measures to avert the disasters that left thousands of people dead and missing every year. "We have many constraints that have slowed the progress in the efforts to improve safety on river voyages," he told Reuters in an interview on Monday. "On the top are acrimonious red tape and widespread corruption. There are financial problems too," he said. In the most recent disasters two ferries sank last week, killing more than 300 people. Scores more are still missing and are believed dead, police and other officials said. At least 600 people died in ferry accidents last year and rescue and police officials say 1,000 were missing. Hossain said any proposal to develop river communications or improve safety usually got stuck in bureaucratic tangles. "Corrupt officials easily approve faulty designs of the vessels and then issue certificates of fitness. They also easily bypass laws or avoid punishment," he said. Hossain said Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia had ordered a number of measures to avert sailing accidents after ferry disasters early last year killed at least 450 people. But the implementation had been slow, Hossain said, adding he was now considering new alternatives to beat the obstacles. "I am planning to call in the private sector to build and operate ferry terminals, give local administration more powers to monitor, seize and penalise offending vessels and their owners, and listing modern technical support to ensure that new ferry models are properly tested before pressed into service," he said. "But everything depends on how soon and how effectively we can do away with corruption and cut through red tapes," he said.

Ferry accidents occur frequently in Bangladesh, a mostly flat region criss-crossed by rivers and tributaries. Officials and police both blame the accidents mainly on faulty designs of vessels, neglect of safety regulations, poor monitoring and lax use of law. The minister said the government had declared 40 ferries unworthy of sailing following investigations over the last one year and many more were being checked. "We have asked ferries not to take overload of passengers, check weather bulletins before sailing and make quick berthing in case of a storm. But hardly anyone follows the guidelines." "Now we are planning to shift the marine courts from the ministry to district administrations, hoping they can work more independently and implement the laws stiffly," he said. But the outcome remains to be seen. Dr. M. Reaz H. Khondoker, head of the department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said out of 20,000 ferries sailing across the country, only 8,000 were registered and 800 had fitness certificates. Khondoker said his department was now assisting the shipping ministry to plug the legal and bureaucratic loopholes. "This seems to be an uphill task but together we can do it," he said. Both the minister and Khondoker, however, said no plan would work unless the people themselves became "concerned and conscious about their own safety."

From Reuters AlertNet, UK, by Anis Ahmed, 28 April 2003

 

Romania Building £3m Super Prison to Tackle Corruption

Romania is to spend £3 million on a super prison to stop criminal masterminds from running their illegal empires from behind bars. It will be built on the site of a former military base in Bucharest, and feature a £1 million high-tech security system. Corruption in Romania has been described as endemic, and the government has set up a special National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office to deal with the problem. Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Ioan Amarie, told local media: "It may be asked why we are spending so much money on a special prison for corrupt people. "The reason is that very important people who held high positions in the administration, or who are financially very powerful, are still running illegal activities from the prisons in which they are now."

From Ananova, 17 April 2003

How to Root Out Russian Corruption

At a Kremlin meeting on Feb. 19, President Vladimir Putin publicly challenged the leaders of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) to help "destroy the breeding ground for corruption." RSPP is a business association that includes the financial-industrial groups that secured control of a majority of Russia's wealth during the past decade of privatization. The association responded by creating a working group that will recommend administrative reform measures to the president within three months. Many analysts dismissed the exchange between Putin and RSPP as one staged to help the Kremlin manage public debate over corruption, leading toward the election season. Ironically, the Feb. 19 meeting skirted scrutiny of the business practices of RSPP members. It is tempting to view it as a post-Perestroika production of Gogol's "Inspector General." Instead, consider the ways that the president's vocal position can spur the public debate and advance civil society's objective to reduce corruption. The public tends to blame the demand side of the corruption equation - that is, civil servants at all levels and bureaucrats of all stripes. Who to blame? Such blame, in turn, leads to a focus on administrative reform - particularly reducing obstacles to business that provide civil servants the opportunity and incentive to demand bribes and engage in other forms of rent-seeking. Russia, however, must attack the breeding ground from both the demand and supply sides.

To succeed, the supply side, or private sector, must accept a significant degree of responsibility. Perhaps this is why, on Feb. 19, the Russian president directed his challenge for "concrete suggestions" to RSPP. Russia's leading financial-industrial groups have been and remain in a position to mold government decrees and regulations, licensing and tendering procedures to secure ownership of state assets - also known as "state capture." World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development studies show that countries with a high incidence of "state capture" tend to be weakened by poor governance of economic development. Licenses or tenders granted without competition create conditions under which a few companies monopolize public resources and tax-paying, efficient businesses subsidize inefficient enterprises. State capture by large enterprises creates barriers to market entry by small-to-medium-size enterprises ("SMEs") and foreign investors. It impedes the rule of law and undermines confidence in government institutions. Russia's market development has also been hindered by a related phenomenon - "business capture." A business group seeking to take control of assets owned by a private company turns to government officials for assistance. Officials use their positions to manipulate courts, laws and administrative and law-enforcement agencies to help the group secure the company's property.

This trend also severely undermines the credibility of institutions required to govern a market economy. Perhaps this is why, in a speech before the Interior Ministry on Feb. 6, Putin warned law enforcement authorities to cease becoming involved in private commercial disputes. Notwithstanding the fact that civil servants play a role in both state and business capture, these practices are bred in the private sector. The breeding ground can be attacked only if private sector leaders take initiative. There are numerous market incentives for RSPP and other business leaders to adopt anti-corruption practices. They include enhancing reputation and good will as business assets, reducing the risk and costs associated with capture, strengthening competitive position, increasing shareholder value, and gaining access to capital and credit on better terms. In the long-term, RSPP requires institutions that can govern a market economy built on true competition. To meet Putin's challenge, RSPP should take concrete initiatives that can be implemented largely by the supply side. In particular, RSPP members should form "integrity pacts" with other large businesses, SMEs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the national and regional level designed to institute conditions for transparent and fair business competition. The most concrete form of an integrity pact is a "no-bribery pledge," under which companies entering a government tender or privatization bid and the officials responsible for choosing the winner commit to a transparent procedure. In particular, they pledge not to offer, pay, accept or seek bribes of any kind during the tender.

To show their good faith, they may place funds in escrow that they would relinquish if they did engage in bribery. If a business does not abide by the guidelines, they lose the bid and other participants in the pledge can stop doing business with or blacklist them. Such pacts have been implemented to one degree or another throughout the world, including in Ecuador (tender for oil refinery rehabilitation), Panama (privatization of telecommunications), Indonesia (Technology Ministry), Argentina (subway and bridge construction), Nepal (municipal contracts) and Benin (highway construction). In order to maximize impact on economic growth, RSPP should form integrity pacts that help both large enterprises and SMEs. Disproportionately injured by the extortion practices of officials at all levels, SMEs are already taking local initiatives throughout Russia. Clubbing together For example, in St. Petersburg, a highly regarded economics professor, Lev Kaplan, and the General Director of the U.S. subsidiary of Otis Elevator, Vladimir Marov, have led the formation of an "Honest Builders' Club." The coalition dedicated to fair business practices now includes 30 of the largest local construction companies, various NGOs and the city's Vice-Governor for Construction. RSPP can find ample know-how for combating corruption in the ground-breaking research being performed by Russian NGOs. According to a recent study by the Center for Anti-corruption Research and Initiative of Transparency International-Russia and INDEM, Russian citizens pay more than $30 billion a year in bribes, not only to conduct business but also to secure access to health, education and housing.

A Transparency International-Russia survey shows how corruption continues to breed at a rapid pace in regional and local governments. Targeting the regions RSPP leaders should also take initiative in the regions in which they operate their factories. They are in the best position to help institute local programs to monitor government agencies and budget processes, increase access to information regarding allocation of public resources, and foster independent oversight of public procurement. Business has a direct incentive to address such issues at a regional level. The human resources of any company are more productive and efficient in an environment where employees feel secure about bribe-free health care, education, and housing services. To galvanize Russia's public debate over corruption, it is vital to remove the sole responsibility for reform from government. By focusing on the supply-side, debate can lead to more direct, immediate and measurable action. In turn, by taking the initiative, the private sector assumes a position to demand government steps to guarantee that regulatory processes are fair, open, competitive and informed. (Matthew H. Murray is chairman of the Center for Business Ethics & Corporate Governance in St. Petersburg. Elena A. Panfilova is general director of the Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative, Transparency International-Russia.)

From Russia Journal, Russia, by Matthew H. Murray and Elena A. Panfilova, 17 April 2003

US Envoy Asks Romania To Tackle Corruption

The US ambassador to Romania on Tuesday urged the country's government to fight corruption, describing it as a crime that was impeding development. Corruption was one of the main stumbling blocks to Romania joining Nato and the European Union has said the country must make progress on the problem before it is asked to join in 2007.Ambassador Michael Guest, who was speaking at an international donors anti-corruption conference in Bucharest, said some Romanians told him he did not understand the issue. "But I understand too well. I understand why businessmen with inside connections don't want new, tighter laws to be passed or implemented," Mr. Guest said. "I understand why some privatisations take so long - if they ever occur. I also know what too often happens, or more pointedly, what fails to happen, when insiders beat out those who should have won the deal. It is a shame for this country," he added. Mr. Guest said the judiciary was also unacceptably slow to act in cases of corruption or where powerful interests were being challenged. "I understand the forces that keep properties from being restituted to their rightful owners. I understand why some prosecutions are so slow to move forward. I certainly have my suspicions as to why some court judgments are never reached," he said.

Mr. Guest praised new legislation and the appointment of an anti-corruption prosecutor who has recently made some high-profile arrests including an adviser to a senior cabinet minister. "I want to be clear with you that I am not laying these problems at the government's door. Indeed, I believe this government has done more to tighten laws and strengthen institutions than any previous government," he said. However Mr. Guest said the time for studying the problem was over. "I strongly urge [the government] to focus not on studies but on concrete projects and actions that will result in the most immediate and practical impact on the lives of the Romanian people," he said. Foreign investors have frequently complained that corruption is one of the main difficulties of doing business in Romania. The problem is exacerbated by badly written or constantly changing legislation. This allows individual interpretations of the regulations which in turns allows officials to demand bribes to overlook often imaginary transgressions. Lowly paid judges are also accused of ruling in favour of the highest bidder.

From Financial Times, by Phelim McAleer, 15 April 2003

 

13 Points Issued in Forum on Iraqi Governance

Participants in the U.S.-sponsored forum on Iraq's postwar government said they had agreed on 13 points that summarized the meeting and set future goals. 1. Iraq must be democratic. 2. The future government of Iraq should not be based on communal identity. 3. A future government should be organized as a democratic federal system, but on the basis of countrywide consultation. 4. The rule of law must be paramount. 5. Iraq must be built on respect for diversity including respect for the role of women. 6. The meeting discussed the role of religion in state and society. 7. The meeting discussed the principle that Iraqis must choose their leaders, not have them imposed from outside. 8. Political violence must be rejected, and Iraqis must immediately organize themselves for the task of reconstruction at both the local and national levels. 9. Iraqis and the coalition must work together to tackle the immediate issues of restoring security and basic services. 10. The Baath Party must be dissolved and its effects on society must be eliminated. 11. There should be an open dialogue with all national political groups to bring them into the process. 12. The meeting condemned the looting that has taken place and the destruction of documents. 13. The Iraqi participants voted to have another meeting in 10 days. That meeting would be held with additional Iraqi participants in a location to be determined. It would discuss procedures for developing an interim Iraqi authority.

From USA Today, 15 April 2003

USAID Awards Contract to Improve Iraqi Local Governance

North Carolina company to provide technical assistance and grants - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced April 11 that it had awarded an initial $7.9 million contract to Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to create opportunities for Iraqi civic participation in the country's post-conflict reconstruction through technical assistance and grants. In a statement released April 11, USAID said RTI would "create programs to increase management skills, knowledge and capacity of local administrators to direct services such as water, health, and public sanitation and in areas such as economic governance," and will provide technical assistance to strengthen civil society and institutions. "All activities under the RTI contract will target underrepresented or 'at risk' groups, including organizations that promote women's rights and strive to help youth and minority groups to participate in the political process," said the statement. Following is the text of the USAID statement: USAID Awards Iraq Local Governance Contract - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced an initial $7.9 million award to the North Carolina-based Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to promote Iraqi participation in Iraq's post-conflict reconstruction. Providing the people of Iraq, and in particular women, the opportunity to participate in public decision-making and stimulate local initiatives is a key component of the U.S. government's assistance program for Iraq.

Under the USAID contract RTI will provide technical assistance to strengthen local administrations, civic institutions and civil society. RTI, an independent, non-profit organization based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, will create programs to increase management skills, knowledge and capacity of local administrators to direct services such as water, health, and public sanitation and in areas such as economic governance. A provision in the contract allows RTI to authorize grants to both Iraqi and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve municipal infrastructure, assist local NGOs with capacity building and undertake training programs in communications, conflict resolution, leadership skills and political analysis. All activities under the RTI contract will target underrepresented or "at risk" groups, including organizations that promote women's rights and strive to help youth and minority groups to participate in the political process. The local governance contract is part of USAID's planned reconstruction assistance to the Iraqi people, aimed at helping maintain stability, ensure the delivery of essential services, and facilitate economic recovery. This is one of eight initial requests for proposals (RFPs) issued by USAID as part of its overall relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

From Washington File, 11 April 2003

 

Lawmakers Stymie Bush on Anti-Corruption Bill for Public Officials

Gov. Jeb Bush has never been timid about controversy. From promoting school vouchers to cutting taxes to eliminating affirmative action, Bush has stood his ground and has pretty much gotten his way. But on one issue -- which seems the least controversial of all - Bush has whiffed three times. And with the 2003 Legislature entering its final weeks, the governor may find his proposal rejected for the fourth year. What does the governor want? He wants lawmakers to toughen the state's anti-corruption laws for public officials. He has been trying, to no avail, since December 1999 to get the Legislature to embrace a bill called the "Citizens' Right to Honest Government." The bill is an outgrowth of a governor's commission, which included prosecutors, public officials, and other legal experts, that recommended strengthening the state's anti-corruption laws, which are used to prosecute government officials and politicians who use their offices for private gain. The commission found that many of the state's anti-corruption laws were unenforceable or too vague to fit the crime. The House has previously endorsed the bill and again appears poised this year to back it. But the legislation has consistently stalled in the Senate, where members have publicly or privately complained the bill may have unintended consequences. This year's version finally cleared the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee last week, but it has several more committee stops with only two weeks left in the session.

A key group of House and Senate members, including two former prosecutors, is trying to salvage the bill without limiting its original intent. "We want a net big enough to allow prosecutors and law enforcement to go after corrupt public officials, but a net that is not so broad that inadvertent conduct falls within it," said Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua, a former state prosecutor. Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, a former federal prosecutor, said although lawmakers have tried to tighten definitions and modify other portions of the legislation, it remains "a pretty strong bill." Other key promoters include Sen. Jim Sebesta, R-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Dudley Goodlette, R-Naples. The bill remains high on the governor's priority list, said Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, who said she was pleased the bill had finally cleared a Senate committee. "I think that is a very good sign," she said. Never forgive, never forget - Former State Senate President John McKay may be gone from the halls of the Florida Capitol - but the Bradenton Republican is far from forgotten. In fact, it appears that Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives continue to have a high level of disdain for McKay a year after he left office. McKay earned the wrath of many House members because of his ironclad will and brass-knuckled style of negotiations. House members are pushing legislation to undo one of McKay's legislative achievements and they have complained about a proposed bill that would name an entrance pavilion at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota after him.

Rep. Ralph Arza, R-Hialeah, is sponsoring legislation that would undo a two-year-old law that restricts how much money school administrators can receive when they cash out unused sick leave. McKay fought for years to get the limits into law and only succeeded after he became Senate president in 2000. Arza, who works for Miami-Dade County schools, testified recently at a House committee meeting that the change in 2001 was "forced down our throats" by McKay. Other House members agreed with the assessment, and Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, said he was "encouraged to see the efforts of the former Senate president being wiped out." McKay said last week that he expected school districts to push to repeal the law he championed. "It took me 11 years to pass that bill so I'm not surprised," he said. But House Republicans are also taking aim at McKay over a university naming bill now moving through both chambers. The legislation would rename various buildings in the state's 11 universities after donors, prominent university deans, and after politicians such as McKay. McKay, who engineered having Florida State University assume control of Ringling and last year helped steer millions toward the museum, would have a pavilion renamed the "John M. McKay Visitors' Pavilion." "Politicians shouldn't be rewarded for spending the people's money," complained Rep. John Stargel, R-Lakeland, who wasn't even in the Legislature last year when McKay was in power. Compiled from reports by Lloyd Dunkelberger and Gary Fineout of the Tallahassee Bureau.

From Sarasota Herald-Tribune, FL, 21 April 2003

Shaw's Ten Commandments for Good Governance

Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw, made his contribution to the 2003/2004 Budget Debate in the House last week. Below are the excepts of his presentation dealing with what he said were his 10 commandments for good governance. FIRST, IT will take a willingness to accept the reality that we face a very real and serious problem and a commitment to solving the problems. The Ministry of Finance issued a press release a few weeks ago in which the Ministry attempted to explain, in essence, that all was fine in Jamaica and that Jamaica's financial position was not as bad as several international agencies including two international investment banks that have underwritten the majority of Jamaica's international bond offering had made it out to be. How can the Government expect to solve a major problem when they themselves fail to admit or acknowledge that they face a serious problem? How can Government expect to solve the problems of high interest rates, devaluation, and fiscal deficit when the Minister of Finance is convinced that creating a mountain of debt is quite in order and we can just "borrow our troubles away"?

COMMITMENT TO CONSISTENCY - Second, it requires a commitment to consistency in policy-making and a commitment to building confidence, particularly among investors. How can any Government run a country successfully and generate investor confidence when drastic and dramatic and dangerous policy changes and reversals are made seemingly without careful thought or analysis or consultation or rationale. One day, a foreign bond is offered. The next day, an indexed bond is offered. Another day, a local bond at nearly double the existing rates is offered. Yet another day, cash reserve requirements for banks are hiked. How can any reasonable business other than margin-gatherers operate successfully in this kind of environment? Third, it will take a commitment to fiscal discipline and reducing the size of Government primarily through cutting waste and over-expenditure. The Government must lead by example, How can the Government expect everyone to tighten their belts when the Government's belly is so big, it can't even see its own belt? And I am not making any reference to any particular Minister when I make this comment. The Government must take the difficult and painful but critical and essential decision to reduce its voracious appetite for greater expenditure for the greater good of the nation and in an effort to rescue our future. Fourth, it requires a commitment to providing an economic climate and environment in which businesses can grow and prosper. I have warned repeatedly that the sustained high interest rate policy is dangerous and extremely harmful to businesses that are attempting to finance expansion, growth and job creation through debt financing. The interest rate policy of the Government makes expansion extremely difficult and, in many cases, prohibitive.

MAINTAINING A BALANCED BUDGET - Fifth, it will take a commitment to reducing the size of our debt and maintaining a balanced budget. I have said in the past outside of Parliament, and I repeat now within these hallowed halls, that we need to start a debate about the benefits of passing balanced budget legislation that prevents the Government from running massive fiscal deficits and curb the Government's seemingly insatiable appetite for more and more high cost debt. We are simply mortgaging our children's future with the massive debt levels we currently face and, again, courage and conviction are needed to ensure that these levels are reduced and maintained. Sixth, it will demand a commitment to identify and actively support new sectors and industries in which Jamaica can participate competitively and that will contribute to economic growth and job creation. In the Leader of the Opposition's contribution to the budget debate last year and again in the JLP manifesto published last year, several new industries and sectors were identified as areas where Jamaica could attract private investors or provide seed funding that could have a meaningful and substantial impact on the Jamaican economy. Unfortunately, we are yet to see any of these creative and potentially lucrative areas being pursued or promoted in any significant way by the Government.

COMMITMENT TO ACTION - Seventh, it will require a commitment to action, results and implementation. Too much and too often what we hear from the Government is flowery language and pretty rhetoric, but no action or follow up. Too often we see the establishment of committees and task forces and commissions intended to address critical problems that attract eminent Jamaicans who often time spend many valuable hours and publish thoughtful, incisive, and pioneering reports, only to see these reports ignored and status quo maintained. We will only emerge from the rut in which we have fallen when we become serious about implementation and about ensuring that we mean what we say and we do what we say we are going to do, in a timely, transparent, and consultative manner. (Cite Stone, Nettleford, Orane and Moses reports on cutting Government size and waste). Eighth, it requires a commitment to fairness and that there be no personal favourites and that sacred cows be sacrificed. True progress will begin when we recognise that a consultant to the Government should be someone with relevant, practical and meaningful expertise, qualifications, and experience who can add substantial value in an area where no current expertise exists, not retired parliamentarians or close political allies given a "reward" for their loyalty and personal support.

Of course, political allies and former parliamentarians can sometimes be effective and even potent policy advisers, but their appointment must be open and transparent and subjected to public scrutiny. Unfortunately it is clear that given the large number of these persons on the public payroll under this Government, factors other than merit and qualifications are driving these appointments which shockingly is occurring at great public expense and contributing to the growing deficit. Mr. Speaker, most of these so-called "consultants": and "advisers" are paid far more handsomely than they would have been had the people elected them to Parliament. Ninth, it requires a commitment to provide strong, decisive leadership that consults with all relevant parties but ultimately takes and executes the necessary decisions. A country must be able to rely on its leaders to mean what they say and do what they mean. If a leader has repeatedly made a commitment to hold Local Government elections by a certain date, then, in the absence of a national disaster or similarly exigent circumstance, that commitment must be honoured. How can any leader have credibility when no one can have any confidence that the leader will actually do what he says or even has any intention whatsoever in doing so. Our leaders must lead by example and they must set the example of consistency, sincerity and fixity of purpose and action.

COMMITMENT TO GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY - Tenth, it requires a commitment to greater transparency and accountability in Government. Government must aggressively prosecute corrupt officials and contractors who plunder the public purse. It is not enough to talk about "youthful exuberance" or to seek absolution on legal technicalities identified by close political allies in inexplicable reports that appear out of nowhere. It is not enough to appoint committees and commissions to identify problems. If there is even the taint of corruption, the Government must move swiftly to send in the Director of Public Prosecutions or even to create a special Anti-Corruption Unit within the DPP's Office to specifically focus on corruption including at the highest levels of Government to demonstrate to the people of Jamaica that there is a genuine commitment to transparency and accountability in Government. If one wants to talk about values and attitudes and have credibility in doing so, you must start, as Michael Jackson puts it so well, with the man in the mirror.

CONCLUSION - Mr. Speaker, if these ten commitments are made, and taken seriously and sincerely by the Government we could start the journey to recovery with surefootedness and confidence. As Jamaicans we have serious decisions to take. We must decide whether we want good government or not. We must insist that our Government has the primary purpose of educating and training our people, and ensuring a clean, safe, healthy and just society within which the opportunities exist for our people to be creative and productive in the pursuit of increasing their own wealth and happiness. In these simple objectives, the Government has clearly been a dismal failure, the result is an educational system that, despite pockets of excellence, is embedded in mediocrity, our people yearn for good quality long-term jobs, and the quality of life that we live leaves a lot to be desired, suffering deterioration year after year.

From Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica, 28 April 2003

 

Parliaments Can Help Poorest Countries Achieve Good Governance

A senior United Nations official has urged a gathering of international lawmakers to strengthen parliamentary institutions in the world's poorest countries in order to provide the boost necessary to achieve good governance and to perhaps help nearly 10 per cent of the world's population secure sustainable human development. Speaking at the 108th conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), currently underway in Santiago, Chile, Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), emphasized that strong political support is indispensable for meeting the development challenges in the world's most poverty-stricken countries. "The parliament, as the legislative engine, is the main force in strengthening democratic institutions and ensuring human development, Mr. Chowdhury said in an address last Tuesday, stressing that in this context, the IPU plays a leading role in ensuring the role of parliaments in developing public policies in an era of globalization and multilateral issues.

Mr. Chowdhury said that cooperation between IPU and his Office could bring a parliamentary dimension to the work relating to the areas of peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, democracy and gender issues for the 615 million people - 10 per cent of the world population - who constitute the poorest and the weakest segment of the international community. Mr. Chowdhury stressed that the Programme of Action adopted in Brussels by the 2001 Third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), highlights the objectives of good governance at national and international levels. "Parliamentary support will provide the boost necessary to achieve good governance objectives at the national level, he said, adding that success in meeting the objectives of development and poverty eradication depends on good governance in LDCs as well as good governance at the international level and on transparency in the financial, monetary and trading systems.

From EuropaWorld, by Lee Yuk Peng, 12 April 2003

Emerging Criteria Raise Important Issues in Governance

The Barbados Advocate today brings the concluding remarks by Dr. Marion Williams at the conference on Corporate Governance. The first part of her address was published in yesterday's Business Monday. Important synergies may also be lost by the separation of audit and consultancy services. Isn't the professional who knows the firm best, in the best position to advise on it? There are gains in orderliness but losses in effectiveness. While many new regulations have balanced results for developing countries, not all do. It has been argued that in the case of Basle II that the proposal to link Banks' Capital Asset Ratios to external rating would introduce modest improvements at the cost of substantial distortions for developing countries. It has been argued that the volatility of Banks' capital requirements in poor countries would be increased and the cost of capital for the best institutions would be higher than peer institutions from other developed countries. I believe this is being addressed. Also, from a developing country perspective, it is useful if rules could be implemented with relevance to the domestic situation, without pressure of immediate compliance, given the fact that countries are at the various stages of development and have different levels of complexity in their systems. We need also to guard against excessive complexity. We must ensure that governance does not become a science which is caught up not in functionality but in complexity - and that the greater the complexity, the more impressive it is thought to be.

This comment has been made about some of the complex proposed reforms in bank regulation, which, in revised form, are due to replace the old guidelines for effective bank supervision. Having said that, it is now widely accepted that the countries with the soundest financial systems record the most stable and sustainable growth rates. The health of the financial system is often a mirror of public confidence in governance policies and, accordingly, all financial entities should be guided by the best governance practices. Corporate governance banks must be greater because their operations are more difficult for shareholders and creditors to monitor and because the consequences of failure are greater. Consequently, the quality of supervision and regulation in the financial sector are especially important. The performance of pension funds and mutual funds is also important. The soundness of pension funds must be assured since this has implications for the well-being of older citizens, who will never have that earning power again, and is especially serious in countries where state-run pension schemes do not deliver ample support. Mutual funds, which have also grown in importance in recent years, also need to be subjected to proper governance. They allow small investors to participate in the stock market by spreading the associated risks. It is incumbent upon regulators, fund managers and other principals to ensure that they uphold the highest standards of governance in the interest of safeguarding their clients' money.

Another compelling reason for good governance is the expanding role of credit rating agencies in investment decisions. Because bilateral lending has declined, and risk weights have been introduced which bias banks against lending to developing countries, developing countries have had to go to the open market to borrow. Having a good credit rating became more important. These agencies are increasingly asking questions about governance as they seek to assess countries' creditworthiness. Most importantly, poor corporate governance is costly. It is estimated that after the Asian crisis the fiscal costs of meeting the financial obligations of commercial banks in Indonesia exceeded 100 per cent of the country's GDP. The new corporate governance criteria that are emerging raise a number of issues. I will just flag a few. 1. Is there the risk that legislators will over-react or have over-reacted and that this could lead to setbacks for the development of financial expertise and corporate innovation, much of which is positive? 2. Will the increased tendency to personal liability of directors open them to litigation and is this likely to lead to the higher quality directors who value their reputations, declining requests to become directors of some boards? What is the implication of charges against directors? Will companies be saddled with high insurance premiums in order to indemnify directors? 3. While new concepts and technologies have emerged and are emerging to deal with today's complexities, how complex should regulation be? Or how user friendly? What will be the unit cost of regulation for small entities? Will they be competed out of business by the high unit cost of regulation? Good governance can be greatly improved by transparency, accountability and appropriate regulatory oversight and the removal of moral hazard from executive compensation. How does greater rule making mesh with the pressures for liberalisation?

These are some of the questions which will, I am sure, be discussed over the next day-and-a-half. As we attempt to anticipate every eventuality in the new era of corporate governance, we must not fail to emphasise ethics, for where the rules fail to anticipate every eventuality, it is ethics and a sense of accountability which will assure good governance. I would like to close with quotations from two other speakers who are here today: Catherine Bromilow, writing on this topic observes that "effective boards strike a balance based on a clear distinction between the role of the board and that of management. While the board provides oversight and strategic insights while avoiding 'micro managing' or dramatically slowing the strategic decision-making process". Christopher Chu and Steve Hanke, (Professor Hanke is also with us today) observed that "under no circumstances should Enron's failure be used as an excuse to enact policies and regulations aimed at eliminating risk-taking and economic failure". The discipline of corporate governance is at a very important juncture.

From Barbados Advocate, West Indies, 29 April 2003

 
 

Civil Servants To Enjoy New Salaries

Alhaji Yakubu Ziblim, President of the Civil Servants Association, said on Wednesday that negotiations on a new salary scale for the Civil Service with retrospective effect from February, this year had been concluded with government. Speaking at the launching of "The Civil Servant" a journal of the Association in Accra, he did not mention the percentage of the increase, which according to him was a secret. He said, however, that negotiations on other allowances, especially Cap 30, which was for pension, were still going on. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister for Tourism and the Modernisation of the Capital, who launched the journal called on workers to let their voices be heard to move the country forward. He asked them to contribute articles that would generate reflection and thought to the journal, which is the mouthpiece of the Association. Obetsebi Lamptey acknowledged the importance of civil servants, saying, "without them a country would find it difficult to manage its affairs". "You cannot have a good private sector as an engine of growth without a good public sector, and be able to sustain the government's golden age business policy," he said. Obetsebi-Lamptey noted that good journals survived on reputation built over the years for expressing clear thoughts, adding that, the Association should take advantage of the repeal of the criminal libel law to lead a new type of journalism.

From GhanaWeb, Ghana, 10 April 2003

Ondo PDP Frowns at Government Use of Civil Servants as Vote Canvassers

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed concern over the alleged drafting of top civil servants by the Ondo State Government into the field as vote canvassers and mobilisers in various towns and villages. The party's worries were expressed in a statement signed by Sola Akinuli on behalf of the Publicity Committee of Agagu 2003, noting that civil servants should be unbiased and should not be smeared by the murky waters of partisan politics. According to the PDP, Governor Adebayo Adefarati, was the first governor to kick against the Supreme Court judgment which allowed civil servants' participation in politics. "The sudden change of position and recent mobilisation of top civil servants as canvassers in the wards is not only worrisome but also shocking", the PDP said. While the party recognises the right of every citizen to political association, it called on partisan civil servants to steer clear of ad hoc jobs since the civil service serves as pool where most ad hoc staff are recruited. Meanwhile, the PDP governorship candidate for Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu, has promised that his government would give special incentives to teachers posted to rural areas. Speaking during campaign tour of Odigbo Local Government Area, Agagu promised that his administration would pay attention to welfare of teachers in general adding, those who needed to be retrained would be given the opportunity to do so. Agagu assured the people that the PDP's free education programme would be with a difference because it would be qualitative. Lamenting the poor state of rural roads in the state, the PDP candidate said the roads would be rehabilitated while farmers would be given priority attention as they would be assisted on land preparation. He promised that the PDP government would build at least one silo for storage of farm products in each of the three senatorial district of the state.

From Daily Times of Nigeria, Nigeria, by James Sowole, 7 April 2003

New Prison Warders Urged to Root Out Corruption

Pretoria - Correctional services has cautioned new recruits in the department to resist the temptation to be corrupt. 'Be strong and resist temptations. (You must) realise that by allowing yourself to be influenced by them (unreliable colleagues, criminals or prisoners) you may be changing roles from being a rehabilitator to being an offender,' said Mr. Watson Tshivhase, the department's deputy national commissioner, speaking during the graduation ceremony of 490 departmental officials at the Kroonstad Training College in the Free State yesterday. He added that by rooting out crime and corruption, the new recruits would be building a peoples contract for a better South Africa. The department has been dogged by corruption in recent months, prompting Minister Ben Skosana to request President Thabo Mbeki to institute a commission of inquiry into prisons in the country after it was alleged that some warders accepted bribes from prisoners and organised escapes. President Mbeki then appointed the Jali Commission of inquiry for this reason, which has been hailed as a success. Some of the recommendations of the commission have led to many officials being suspended and/or dismissed.

The Jali commission is also part of the department greater strategic plan to move away from the old system to a new prison management approach. Prisoner rehabilitation and addressing overcrowding in prisons are some of the priorities identified in this regard. Mr. Tshivhase said the new officials should acquaint themselves with the department's new strategic direction and its operational plans to be successful in their roles as rehabilitators of prisoners. '...Being a correctional officer is not a career, it is a calling. It calls for men and women of strong character, of total commitment and unquestionable integrity. Your time will mainly be spent with those that have failed the community. But you chose to become a rehabilitator,' he told the new recruits. He warned the new recruits that: 'Only those who can appreciate the difference and... pursue their responsibilities with commitment and dedication, will make a success.' The new officials will join about 34 000 staff members. Most of the existing staffers are now undergoing re-training as the department embarks on an extensive plan to rehabilitate prisoners so that they can be integrated into society.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 17 April 2003

Transparency Crucial for Nepad's Success

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) will fail if transparency and accountability do not form part of the process. This was the warning from Daryl Balia, the Chairperson of Transparency International South Africa. He was speaking to delegates at the African Investment Forum in Johannesburg. Balia says while the aim of the forum is to engage African governments and business on advancing Nepad, there needs to be clear monitoring mechanisms especially for the private sector. "When for example we talk about the peer review mechanism that there are safeguards in place that will ensure transparency and accountability to the people of Africa. For this reason we would like to see a greater involvement of civil society in the monitoring process," Balia says, adding: "We don't believe it should be left to our leaders alone. I think they have failed us miserably in the past and we have nothing to go by to believe it is going to get better in future." However, this is what the African Investment Forum aims to do: build a partnership between African governments and business to strengthen Nepad. Balia nevertheless regards even this co-operation, with a measure of suspicion. "The truth of the matter is that business has failed us. We have seen countless acts of corruption that have been perpetrated by these giant multinational companies that are now queuing up to form partnerships with governments in the interests of Nepad."

Transparency International is perhaps best known for the release of its annual Corruption Perception Index. Many financial institutions and major multi-nationals use the index as an indication of the risks involved in investing, especially in Africa. The flip side is who assesses these companies? Balia says the track record of some corporates in the third world highlights the need for sound ethical guidelines. "If you look at for example the petroleum gas companies, we have evidence that they have major transactions involved in bribery and corruption. And especially when it comes to the awarding of contracts if you look at our global corruption report we have stories that will make you shiver." Balia adds that: "If you look at some of the big water companies, if you look at some of the forestry deals, there are questions being raised. We are saying what makes us think that you are going to be behaving any differently now. The only way this can be done is if these businesses do certain fundamental ethical principles." Balia contends that tackling corruption is the first step to securing a positive investment climate for Nepad and Africa. Nepad is expected to come under the spotlight again tomorrow. Wiseman Nkuhlu, the Head of the Nepad Steering Committee, is scheduled to chair a meeting on private sector involvement in Nepad's peer review mechanism.

From SABC News, South Africa, 8 April 2003

BDP Pre-Vetting Eliminates 'Civil Servants'

The pre-vetting guidelines for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have dealt a crucial blow to the aspirations of its 'civil servants' members who wish to stand for parliamentary elections. At its recent National Council, party and state president, Festus Mogae, announced that the party had set a deadline of 19 and 29 May for applications for parliamentary candidates. This date, according to those civil servants whose eyes are set on standing for parliamentary elections, is too soon and gives them little options if any to make their moves. For one, they will have to quit their jobs as soon as possible if they have to beat the deadline and yet they will have minimal time to prepare or campaign. BDP chairman, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, told Mmegi that it was up to those civil servants wishing to stand to adjust to the party's programme. "Being a civil servant is not imprisonment and I do not see why they cannot adjust," he quipped. Moreover, campaigning of any form such as the distribution of campaign materials or the use of public address systems for the same before the vetting exercise is prohibited. Some say sitting members of parliament and councillors are having the lion's share because they can use their positions to make their wishes of seeking re-election known.

Johannes Malepeng, who has set his eyes on the Tswapong North constituency seat where he will flex his muscles against the incumbent Thebe Mogami and a host of other new entrants, said the new party guidelines are a disadvantage to them compared to the sitting MPs. "I am not happy with it. We already know that (MP Tebelelo) Seretse and (specially-elected MP Pelonomi) Venson are going to stand for Serowe South and so are Kedikilwe or Ian Khama but for us the new candidates how do we make our candidature known? It is unfair for us," he said. Malepeng is already serving notice at Kalahari Conservation Society where he is working so that he can meet the deadline and enter politics. But he is also aware that things could go wrong if the vetting process throws out his application or that of others after they would have quit their jobs. "That is politics. You can lose but your work for the party should continue. Maybe you can try and get another job," he added. Civil servants wishing to beat the May 19 and 20 BDP deadline for applications to stand as parliamentary candidates will have to quit their jobs by May. The vetting process would take place on June 23-26 and the results would be announced the following day. The primary elections would follow on November 27."We will only be able to start campaigning after the vetting process. That gives us only five months. That is not enough," said Malepeng.

From Mmegi, Botswana, 22 April 2003

Civil Servants' Salaries Set for Review

Nairobi - Civil Servants' terms of service, including salaries, will soon be reviewed. But an assistant minister said this would depend on the Cabinet's adoption of a new Planning and National Development policy aimed at improving the terms. The policy recommendations are soon to be presented to the Cabinet. The review will not benefit all the civil servants, however; some may have their salaries reduced as the Government sorts out income discrepancies in the 22 ministries. Mr. Morris Dzoro of the Office of the President in charge of the Public Service said yesterday the policy would streamline the salaries and allowances. Mr. Dzoro said retrenchment undertaken in public service namely defence, Teachers Service Commission, local authorities and parastatals was expected to save the government millions of shillings. "The long term savings from a reduced work force, lower running costs and more efficient operations will be available to increase personnel emoluments and public capital investments," he added.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 22 April 2003

Agagu Raises Alarm Over Plans to Flood Ondo Civil Service With New Appointments

The Governor-elect of Ondo state, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, yesterday raised alarm over plans by out-going administration of governor Adebayo Adefarati to flood the civil service with new appointments and to pay severance allowance to political office holders before May 29 this year. Dr Agagu however, declared that his administration would send packing such people that were appointed by the out-going administration while permanent secretaries who sign vouchers to pay severance allowances would refund such monies. The governor-elect, speaking through the Coordinator of Agagu 2003 organisation, Professor Olu Agbi, told newsmen in Akure that there are incontrovertible evidence of plan to embark on massive and unprecedented recruitment of new workers by the outing administration. Dr. Agagu added that the new workers are to be employed between now and May 29 and that "it is part of the plan to put financial strain on the Agagu administration."Continuing, the governor-elect noted that part of "the plan is to back date some of these appointments to justify this dastardly act."

Speaking on the plan to pay severance allowance to political offices holders in the state, Dr. Agagu said that some top civil servants complained to him that pressure are on them to connive with the political office holders to pay the allowances before their exit in May 29. "It is statutorily wrong for them to be paid before May 29, infact, it is the incoming government that should pay them, all these plans are meant to create problems for the in-coming government. "Any of the permanent secretaries who collaborates with the potitical office holders would be made to make refund of the monies after taking them to court." Dr. Agagu also alleged that contract papers and payment vouchers are being destroyed to cover-up inflated contracts that may implicate the state governor and his aides. "I like to seize this opportunity to remind any civil servant in whose custody these contract papers and payment vouchers are kept that destruction of government records is a criminal offence that attracts punishment. "I like to also emphasis for the avoidance of doubt that offenders in any guise shall be made to feel the full weight of the law," he threatened Other allegations against the out-going governor and his commissioners and aides include removal and looting government properties, panic award of contracts and withdrawal and transit of funds and the rush to conduct local government elections on Saturday May 10, this year. Dr. Agagu however, said that the incoming PDP-controlled government in the state is committed to good governance, transparency and honesty.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Dayo Johnson, 25 April 2003

Civil Servants Told to Reform and Help Curb Corruption

Public servants have been asked to reform and join the fight against corruption. The Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics, Mr. John Githongo, said yesterday that civil servants should learn from the past after being used by politicians as a rubber-stamp and then made sacrificial lambs. "We as civil servants ended up paying the price after receiving instructions from politicians to engage in corrupt deals," he said. His office would defend public servants who refused to be intimidated by politicians seeking favours, Mr. Githongo added. He was speaking at Egerton University when he opened a workshop for integrity assurance officers. The workshop was organised by the Public Service Integrity Programme, and was attended also by the head of the Anti-Corruption Police Unit, Mr. Gideon Mutua, and Rift Valley Deputy PC Benjamin Rotich. The PS said it was the duty of the government to ensure prudent use of public resources and that the public service performed efficiently and effectively. He pointed out that corruption and unethical behaviour caused inefficiency and waste. Corruption, he added, tended to reduce the government resources for the provision of public services. Mr. Githongo said the government was introducing a result-oriented management style, which would emphasise better services. He said an accountable and transparent public service would be less likely to be wasteful. He added that many parastatal board members and chief had in the past abdicated their responsibilities.

From Daily Nation, Kenya, 29 April 2003

 
We Need Same Level of Accountability from All Agencies

Recent actions taken by several autonomous agencies that have cost Guam's taxpayers millions of dollars have highlighted the need for those agencies to be subject to stricter financial controls. Some autonomous agency heads and boards have reasoned that because they aren't appropriated money from the General Fund, that they aren't subject to the same restrictions and checks that are placed on line agencies. This rationale has led to: The airport spending: $2.1 million on 12 bronze statues and the design of a VIP lounge; $1.25 million on a exhibit of Chinese terra cotta statues; $1.3 million on the Birdman Rally; $500,000 in travel in the first three months of this fiscal year; and picking up part of the cost of a New Year's Eve party for former President Bill Clinton. The Guam Economic Development Authority: approving $1.5 million for a group to lobby for federal money for Guam; giving the go-ahead for a lease to an off-island company to develop Tiyan and then giving them thousands of dollars after the lease was canceled by law; and the signing of the controversial incinerator contract, which is still in court.

These are just a few of the more blatant examples, most of which took place at a time when the government, because of its ongoing financial crisis, could ill afford to waste any money at all. While autonomous agencies may not be directly supported by taxpayer money, they do use public assets, resources and funds. Whether they like it or not, these entities are agencies of the government of Guam, and are spending the people's money, and thus must be made to follow the same government procurement policies as do line agencies. It's a necessary measure that will instill a greater degree of fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency in the spending of public money, and also will dramatically reduce the potential for waste and abuse. The people of Guam, especially during these dire financial times, deserve no less from their public servants, with the operative word being "servants."

From Agana Pacific Daily News, GU, 5 AprIL 2003

400 Public Servants Told to Quit Private Firms

The Territory government yesterday intensified its crackdown on executive conflicts of interest. About 400 Territory-wide high-level public servants will be banned from holding directorships in private companies involved in any NT government contracts. Chief Minister Clare Martin told the Northern Territory News yesterday the changes aimed to prevent conflicts of interest, both real and perceived. "The new rules on directorships in private companies makes a clear statement of the standards we expect," Ms Martin said. "The NTPS must be open and accountable and, more importantly, be beyond reproach or question by the public. We want to avoid any potential for conflicts of interest, or unfair practices, that could damage the reputation of a department." Ms Martin said the NT Public Service code of conduct would be strengthened to accommodate the changes. The code, which already requires disclosure of private financial and business dealings, will now force public servants to officially register their interests. The decision follows a government investigation into Health Department assistant secretary Stephen Moo, who was also a director of Modular Medical Products Pty Ltd. The company has won nearly 100 health department contracts, worth millions of dollars. Mr. Moo, who has been told to divest his interests in the company or quit his job, was last week cleared of any conflict of interest.

From Northern Territory News, Australia, by Paul Dyer, 13 April 2003

Rotation Not Affecting Sabah Civil Service

Although the State experiences a change of leadership every two years under the Chief Minister rotation system, there has been continued assurance of non-political interference in the Civil Service. State Secretary Datuk KY Mustafa on Monday said the Civil Service has been accorded high recognition and good treatment since the Barisan Nasional (BN) took over the helm of the State Government about nine years ago. "The Civil Service has been given the freedom and leeway to function fully and discharge their duties and responsibilities in implementing the Government's policies and planned development programmes," he told Daily Express. As head of the State Civil Service, Mustafa noted that his views and advice have always been taken into account, concerning each matter that involves the Civil Service. "We greatly appreciate this gesture. We are grateful to the Government leadership who has so far never cast doubts on the professionalism of the Civil Service and our characteristics of openness and ability to receive sincere and constructive advice," he said. The State Secretary expressed the hope that this ideal and harmonious working atmosphere will be perpetuated to maintain the smoothness and efficiency in the Government administration.

To reciprocate the Government's understanding and high respect for the professionalism of the Civil Service, Mustafa urged each member of the Civil Service to multiply their efforts in executing their duties with more sincerity, dedication, credibility, transparency and a sense of responsibility. He assured that the Civil Service would support Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman's directions and translate them into actions "so that the fruits are enjoyed by the State and people." Mustafa described the Government and the Civil Service as partners in ensuring that all plans and the formulation of policies are implemented fully. "The Government and the Civil Service are two institutions that need each other. We must uphold and promote this relationship at all times. "If both parties don't understand each other's role and can't co-operate, then it will jeopardise administration and national development." Given their knowledge, experience and expertise, he likened civil servants to being advisers to the ruling Government. "Members of the Civil Service must be courageous enough to provide advice and views in an open, sincere and professional manner in the interest of the State and people," he said.

While conceding that the advice given may be opposed to what is desired by some government leaders, Mustafa said this does not mean that civil servants disobey government directives. "Whether the advice concerned is accepted or otherwise, is a second question. What is more important is that the civil servants have carried out their responsibilities professionally." The State Secretary made it clear that the Civil Service is not exempted from open criticisms, given the wrongdoings by a number of its members. "There had been weaknesses in the management of public administration, for example, delay in providing responses to those concerned or taking certain actions, managing government contracts or agreements without complying with regulations or contravening policies. "All this had caused the Government to bear a huge financial burden," he pointed out. Saying that civil servants receive reprimands with an open heart, Mustafa emphasised the need to rectify weaknesses and be more cautious to avert a recurrence of past mistakes.

From Daily Express, Malaysia, by Kota Kinabalu, 15 April 2003

Civil Servants Must Understand General Orders

Kuala Lumpur - Heads of department in every government department need to find ways to ensure government employees fully understand the contents of the General Orders governing civil servants, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman said Monday. He said this was necessary to prevent problems that affected the credibility and duties of government employees, especially involving political issues. All instructions in the General Orders were complete and hence, there was no question whether to have more detailed guidelines on the rights of civil servants to be involved in politics, he said. "The matter is clearly stated. Heads of department and officers have explained on who can be active in politics and those who cannot," he told reporters after launching E-Library User Education, here. Samsudin said this when asked to comment on whether there was a need for the General Orders to be fine-tuned on the definition for civil servants to be involved in politics following a fight between the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department Director and Kota Baharu Umno division chief Zaid Ibrahim early this month. He did not rule out the possibility that some civil servants did not fully apprehend the instructions in the General Orders. Hence, the government had implemented other ways like holding monthly meetings for heads of federal department to ensure government policies were enforced efficiently, he said. Samsudin also said heads of department were required to go down to the ground to monitor and ensure that every directive issued was understood and implemented. On the level of general knowledge and information technology (IT) among government employees, he said the newly-introduced Skim Saraan Malaysia (SSM) required them to improve their knowledge and skills in the two fields. He said there is an improvement in general knowledge and IT as every department and ministry cannot avoid from using IT equipment.

From Daily Express, Malaysia, 22 April 2003

Civil Servants to Get More Training on e-Government

The effort to ensure that civil servants are ready and have the know-how to operate in the new e-Government format is now being stepped up through the Civil Service Institute or IPA. Also in place and continuously refined and upgraded is the move to increase efficiency, productivity and quality of service in the present government machinery through training and retraining programs. "During the past 12 months of last year only some 51 courses and training programmes on human resource development, IT, quality and productivity were conducted for 4,818 participants that comprise civil servants from various government agencies". "This year the number of programmes and courses provided is increasing. From January to April this year some 42 programmes and courses have already been conducted", said the Director of IPA, Dr. Awang Azahairaini bin Haji Mohd Jamil. He said about half of these programmes and courses were designed to provide the participants with new knowledge and know-how on ICT. "The aim is not only to help participants to increase their computer literacy but also on how to make IT a culture in the government community," said the Director of IPA. "This is in line with the government's effort to gear up the civil servants towards the eventual formation of the e-Government machinery," he added in an interview with the Bulletin yesterday. He said that running parallel to this effort is also the ongoing programme to increase the productivity, efficiency and quality of service of the civil service.

However, Dr Azahairaini conceded that the big challenge for IPA is not just in providing the human resource development programmes and training courses to participants. "Our concerned in IPA has been always the effectiveness of our programmes and training courses in meeting the need of the public sector to have efficient, effective, customer-oriented and dynamic civil service. On the other hand we are also dealing with the bigger issue of changing mindset". In this context, IPA is apparently setting the pace to do its housekeeping first and change the mindset of its own community. According to Dr. Azahairaini, a new organisational structure has already been put in place in IPA. Now five sections, namely, the Training and Development, the Support Services Section, the Administration and Management Section, Research and Development and the MIS and ICT Section, support IPA. IPA has also drawn up a five-year strategic plan to become one of the best institutes among partners in Human Resource Development in the ASEAN region," explained the Director. "Our strategies are to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative and management systems of IPA, to develop staff expertise in specific management, administration and ICT disciplines and to improve the quality of HRD in accordance with the needs of customers". "We would also strive to promote the IPA's services and programmes to Civil Service and where appropriate, other agencies involved in national development. Also on the agenda is to improve the capacity of IPA as a resource centre in the areas of management, public administration and ICT", said the Director.

From Brudirect.com, by Malai Hassan Othman, 22 April 2003

Solomons Government Negotiates on Public Service

A general strike by civil servants in Solomon Islands has been called off. General secretary of Solomon Islands Public Employees Union, Clement Waiwori, says the cancellation resulted from a last minute decision by the government to discuss the union's grievances. The union is demanding the settlement of outstanding redundancy payments to its members, pay increases and other service benefits. Mr. Waiwori says 1,500 civil servants have not been paid redundancy packages since the government implemented structural reforms. The union says the retail price index on the cost of goods had increase nearly 50 per cent over the past five years while salaries remain the same.

From Radio Australia, Australia, 22 April 2003

WA Government May Issue Cash for Public Servant Ideas

Public sector workers in Western Australia could receive cash payouts or royalties for ideas that generate commercial revenue for the Government. The incentive scheme, designed to reward innovation, forms part of a revised Government policy on intellectual property rights to be released by State Development Minister Clive Brown. Mr. Brown says public sector workers will not be able to cash in on just any idea, only those that create new income for the state. "The clear idea here is this.... where the state receives additional funds as the result of an idea coming from a public sector worker being commercialised and drawing income for the state that the employee should be appropriately rewarded as a result of the additional income that the state receives as a result of that idea," he said.

From ABC Online, Australia, 22 April 2003

No Compromise on Errant Civil Servants: Musa

There is no room for compromise for leaders and public service officers who go against the directives of the Integrity Management Committee (IMC), said Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman. "The level of compliance in the public service (in Sabah) is good but there is still room for improvement," he said. "It is imperative that public service officers carry out their duties cleanly, efficiently and honestly so that it would not impair the whole system," he said after opening the national Integrity Management Committee Secretariat meeting at Pacific Wing Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa, here Monday. Musa, who is also State Finance Minister, said those found committing breach of trust must be dealt with accordingly and that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) must step in. "We are not looking for small fish, even the big fish, we don't care who you are. If you are wrong, action will be initiated," he said when asked whether there have been cases of officers or Cabinet members being investigated for corruption. He said that if there were reports, then the ACA was free to investigate. To a question, he said all Cabinet members and senior civil servants had all this while been directed to declare their assets. In his speech, he said the approach to keeping the pressure on to achieve the IMC's main objective in all leadership levels, including political, must be intensified. "I myself will not compromise with issues that lead to the decimation of the directives," he said. The IMC was established under the directive of the Prime Minister in 1998 to, among others, maintain the country's public service performance, which in 1995 was adjudged as the fourth best among 48 countries in a research conducted by the World Economic Forum and International Institute for Management.

Among its specific focuses are to overcome weaknesses, especially in government fund management, public administration, handling of disciplinary cases, corruption and abuse of power as well as those prohibited by the regulations, laws and religion, he said. In the Sabah context, he said the effort to transform the civil service was intensified in 1999 through the Reinventing the Government initiative. "The Leadership Programme and Succession Planning through the Executive Development Programme was also introduced this year in a bid to create a pool of leaders and managers for the future public service," he said. Musa said history had shown that many successful civilisations were based on good virtues, but many of them were destroyed due to depleting moral values and forgetting the teaching of religions. "It is my opinion that the quality of leadership must be prepared and enhanced in accordance with the need to meet with the present and future challenges," he said. Leaders, he said, must utilise the power entrusted to them transparently and fairly, while having qualities that influence an organisation to perform better and strengthen the working quality culture. The State Government, he said, welcomed the efforts by the Federal Government in bolstering the Government's integrity management. "Corporate governance, which is closely related to integrity in business dealings, has always been my guide as a corporate member before I become a State Cabinet member," he said. Musa hoped the IMC meeting in Sabah would be able to reach resolutions via a more realistic and pragmatic mind frame in the bid to tidy up the public administration machinery leading to integrity in managing the Government.

From Daily Express, Malaysia, 28 April 2003

Have a Multi-Racial Civil Service

Kuala Lumpur - The gap between Malays and non-Malays in the civil service, the police force and armed forces is steadily growing and the Government must tackle the problem before it worsens, prominent individuals said today. Many said in interviews the lack of non-Malays working in these sectors was a worrying trend that needed to be addressed otherwise Malaysia's unity among the races could be compromised. Sunway Group corporate adviser Tan Sri Dr Ramon Navaratnam said the fact that most government offices had very few or no Chinese or Indian officers at all created a psychological problem for non-Malay citizens from small towns who wanted help for their problems or complaints. "They feel alienated. From a national unity point of view, they might feel more comfortable with civil servants of their own race around and feel that there is more empathy," he said. He also spoke on the necessity of having a multi-racial civil service since one that is predominantly of one race could result in "inbreeding" or "cross pollination", where workers would feed on each others' weaknesses and destroy their strengths. "The problem is that there is a psychological bias and a preference for Malay workers although that may not be the recruitment policy. "We need fair competition or a quota system otherwise the trend will get worse, and it becomes like a steam engine that we must slow down," he said.

He added that promotions also had to be fair and competitive. He urged the Government to implement reverse affirmative policies as soon as possible. The need for reverse policies was also echoed by historian Prof Datuk Khoo Kay Kim, although he said the change had to be gradual. "The process has taken a generation and there is no need to push the attempt when currently many Malays still feel affirmative action should continue. "No one should feel threatened in the process of reversal," he said. He said, however, that the trend of Malays dominating the public sector and non-Malays in the private sector had to be addressed as the gap was "growing wider" and "it never used to be this bad". "It is difficult for non-Malays to get recruited as their applications are not selected and after some time they think it is pointless to apply. "Even if they get in, promotions are very slow so there are few prospects," he said. The Government, he said, would have to decide if it wanted things to go on like this as the trend posed problems such as Malaysia losing its talent to other countries. "Non-Malays now look for opportunities outside the country and they will go because the doors are open to them.

Singapore has been taking (our talent) on a very large scale." Various problems such as graduates of public universities having a weak grasp of the English language and students competing only against their own ethnic groups were also a result of the policy, he added. Cuepacs president Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the Government could not sit back and think the lack of non-Malays in the civil sector and other professions was "just because of poor response". "They must check the situation because from the feedback we get from many people, it is not because non-Malays do not apply, but because they are not considered at all. "It disappoints them because they have good qualifications but they cannot get in." He said there could also be a possibility of some heads of department having their own agenda. There should be at least 10 per cent of non-Malays working in the civil service, he said, as it was commonplace for offices to be non-functional during holiday seasons for Malays. "There must be some staff, the situation has to be controlled," Siva Subramaniam said. "The civil service has to be a professional service and if the 10 per cent is not there, something is wrong," he said. "At the same time, the private sector must take in more Malays, to balance things up."

From New Straits Times, Malaysia, by Koh Lay Chin, 29 April 2003

 

Spoils System: No Removal of Civil Service Managers

Rome - The investigative commission of Lazio decreed as illegitimate law 145/02 that calls for the removal of managers within the civil service each time the government changes hands. The Administrative Tribunal rejected the expression "spoils system" as not pertaining to the Italian language, the official language of public acts. Additionally, the law in question violates, "the independence and partiality" required of managers in the civil service as per the Constitution, subjecting them to political power. The law on the spoils system therefore needs to be re-interpreted. A removal must be tied to the concept of technical trust of management who "must not operate as unfaithful tools that sabotage political objective." The unions are happy with the outcome. Antonio Foccillo, federal secretary of the Cisl labor union said, "public managers must be at the service of all citizens and respond to election results based on objective criteria and not on political identification. Only in this way can the civil service be made more efficient."ext Here

From Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, Italy, 11 April 2003

Depute Leader Calls for Civil Service Jobs

Peeblesshire has the potential to become a new centre for government employees. And Scottish Borders Council's (SBC) Deputy Leader, David Parker, will be urging the Scottish Executive to mirror Chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget commitment to reform the civil service down south. Mr. Parker feels that parts of Peeblesshire - particularly Innerleithen and Walkerburn - are potentially suitable for economic growth and development. And he is now pressing the Scottish Executive to follow the example of Mr. Brown, who boosted the government's long-standing drive to set up more offices outside London during his Budget report. Mr. Parker said:" In England and Wales, the Chancellor has announced a relocation of civil service jobs, and we will be urging the Scottish Executive to continue its moves to devolve jobs out of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and into other parts of the country. "Although we have the Public Pensions Agency at Tweedbank, which is welcome, I would suggest that there is definitely scope to have some kind of government facility either in Peebles, Innerleithen or Walkerburn." With regard to Innerleithen and Walkerburn, he continued: "There is certainly ground for development there as there are buildings that are not being utilised to their full potential. "In light of the Chancellor's wish to make radical changes in England and Wales, we will certainly be encouraging the Scottish Executive to bring something into Tweeddale," he added. On the issue of fuel duty, Mr. Parker welcomed the Chancellor's decision to defer an increase until October, but stressed that in rural areas such as the Borders, any increase in fuel duty would be unwelcome. He said: "An increase would not be acceptable to us.

Firstly, because the vast majority of people in the Borders own cars because they have to - given the rural area of the region, and secondly, because of the massive cost that it places on the Council, which in turn, ends up on everyone's council tax bills. "In the Council, we are also hit with all the vehicles we use, like trucks and vans, as well as all the bus services to schools and so on. "Additional fuel duty there would have a crippling effect on us, as we would suffer more than other parts of Scotland - that is why we will ask the Chancellor to look at ways of compensating rural areas against the additional costs that we have. "At the moment, motorists seems to be hung, drawn and quartered everywhere they turn, and we feel that we have a good case to argue, especially taking our rural nature and depleting bus service into account." Mr. Parker added: "Fuel poverty is becoming an issue in the Borders because people need cars, and obviously, any increase in fuel duty is not at all welcome at any time. "A lower than average income in the Borders must also be taken into consideration, although we welcome the move to increase the minimum wage that the Chancellor has made."

Peeblesshire, and indeed the entire Borders region, is widely recognised as having a large population of pensioners, and although Mr. Parker was keen to acknowledge Chancellor Brown's decision to allow the elderly to keep their state benefit longer when they are in hospital, he blasted the fact that heating allowances have not been extended to all OAPs. "We would welcome the additional £100 in heating allowances given to the over 80s, but are disappointed that that has not been extended to all pensioners," he said. While welcoming the government's drive to tackle environmental issues by increased recycling, Mr. Parker felt that the announced rise in landfill tax will debilitate SBC's resources. He explained: "On the worrying side, although we welcome the push for recycling, the fact that the landfill tax is going up by a tonne, both now and over the next five years, will add a huge burden in costs to the Council, and we will be asking central government to be a little bit more pro-active in providing finance to help us recycle. "On the continent there is a whole range of measures that central government takes to encourage recycling, and that is usually backed up with money. "We would certainly be asking the Scottish Executive to look very closely at funding for recycling, which we are very keen to do," he added. During the Chancellor's Budget report, he also hinted at implementing measures to help small businesses, including streamlining the tax system. Praising the move, Mr. Parker said: "We would welcome anything that helps small business."

From Peeblesshire News, UK, by Craig Finlay, 11 April 2003

London Exodus for Civil Servants

20,000 face transfer - Row over pay looms - An exodus of civil servants from London is being planned on a scale not seen since Harold Wilson decreed large scale dispersal from Whitehall in the 1960s. The government wants to cut the number in the capital by a quarter of its 90,000. The chancellor said private sector firms had successfully relocated out of the south east. While past reviews had led to over 10,000 jobs being transferred out of London, the chancellor estimated yesterday that another 20,000 could follow - "to the benefit of the whole country". More controversially, new measures are being prepared to break national pay-bargaining and link public sector pay to local markets and economies, where the cost of living is often lower than London and the south east. Pay review bodies would get a new remit "to take into account regional and local factors". This could mean that, in pursuit of "flexibility" the Treasury buzzword, some departments might effectively bribe officials to move by adding new "weighting" elements to pay in the regions. The Treasury said: "More locally responsive public sector pay systems will ensure that low-paid workers do not lose out, and service users across the country will benefit from better public services". After a series of meetings with the deputy prime minister to push the regional issue higher up the government's agenda, the chancellor has started an immediate review. He has asked Sir Michael Lyons, director of the Institute of Local Government Studies at Birmingham University, to make firm recommendations on which departments and agencies could relocate.

His initiative has involved a joint letter with John Prescott to the prime minister stressing the importance of civil service relocation to achieve the aim of more balanced economic growth between regions. Stressing the urgency of the exercise Sir Michael, former chief executive of Birmingham City Council, said last night: "The intention is very clear, not to say what would be a good idea, but to say what should be moved, and make specific recommendations." Whitehall departments will have to submit what are called updated workforce development plans so that Sir Michael's team can produce a detailed report for the next spending review in two years' time. This review is meant to implement the promise made in last year's regional white paper ordering Whitehall departments to "consider the balance" of their staff. At present two thirds of all civil servants are located outside London and the south east, a proportion that has been growing in recent years. But there are more civil servants in richer than poorer regions, despite the relocation of big money processing functions to Shipley in West Yorkshire and Longbenton outside Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Some previous efforts at relocation have come unstuck. The attempt to rebase the administration of the National Health Service in Leeds was partly rescinded. George Morran, chair of the Campaign for the Regions noted in response that relocating staff "is not the same as devolving power and responsibility for policy and public services".

From Guardian, UK, by David Walker and Peter Hetherington, 9 April 2003

Hardship on April 16, But Not For Civil Servants

Hoping to alleviate congestion in central Athens during the April 16 European Union summit, when the accession agreements of 10 new members - including Cyprus - are to be signed, the government said it might declare the day a public holiday for the city's civil servants. Following an interministerial meeting on the summit yesterday chaired by Premier Costas Simitis, government spokesman Christos Protopappas added that security would be intense, and asked Athenians to be forbearing. "Of necessity, they will experience hardship," he said. "We must bear in mind that it will be a great day, a day of celebration for Europe and Greece in particular, due to the accession of Cyprus." Following an informal EU summit at the Zappeion Hall, the accession agreements will be signed at the Ancient Agora, in the reconstructed second-century-BC Stoa of Attalos.

From Kathimerini, Greece, 5 April 2003

Public service Improvements Promised by Labour

No one will wait more than 24 hours to see their GP, dentist or optician if Labour wins the National Assembly election, the party promised yesterday. Labour also pledged to recruit 3,010 extra nurses and 410 more doctors by 2007 and to cut class sizes within months of taking power. The commitments are made in its Assembly election manifesto, published yesterday. The document shows Labour is determined to focus on improvements to public services, particularly health and education, as it campaigns for an overall majority in May's election. Other notable policies, on top of Labour's 10 key pledges unveiled last week, include halving the number of children killed or injured on Wales's roads by 2010 and appointing a commissioner for old people. A clear theme of the manifesto is that a Labour-run Assembly works best with a Labour Government at Westminster and Plaid Cymru or the Conservatives would not get as good a deal from London. Writing in the introduction First Minister Rhodri Morgan says, "The fruits of our partnership with the UK Government means that the budget we will be working with in two years' time will be over £12.5bn."Labour has avoided making specific promises on hospital waiting lists after failing to deliver on its 1999 commitment to wipe out long waits. It does however pledge to continue to drive down waiting times in key areas.

The GP pledge is a brave if slightly risky move. Labour's failure to meet its 1999 manifesto promise to wipe out long hospital waits has given opposition parties enormous ammunition to attack it. Other policies in the area of health are to open two new clinical schools in North Wales and Gwent and eradicate fuel poverty by 2010.On education Labour promises to cut all junior classes to a maximum of 30 pupils by the end of the year. Labour also promises:* To review the need for tests at key stages one and two;* A new curriculum for three to seven-year-olds. Other eye-catching policies include:* The goal to recycle 25% of municipal waste;* To consider setting up a new national gallery of Welsh art;* A further £27m invested in the Welsh language;* 135,000 more jobs by 2010, with new opportunities for the over 50s, lone parents, the disabled and ethnic minorities;* A £25m innovation grant;* To explore the feasibility of a public service obligation for a north-south air service;* To encourage schools and hospitals to buy more Welsh produce;* Free breakfast for primary school children and the abolition of prescription charges top Labour's 10 key pledges. Labour has also promised to rule-out top up fees in Welsh universities for the next four-year term and to scrap home care charges for disabled people.

From icWales, UK, 8 April 2003

Regional Inflation Data Set to Influence Public-Sector Pay

Plans for regional inflation figures may elevate different prices in different towns from a dull talking point to an important tool for setting public-sector salaries. The numbers should make it easier for employers to tweak pay rates according to the cost of living in various places. Such a system would mark a radical change to today's pay rates, where only workers in London and parts of the south-east tend to get a regional weighting. The Office for National Statistics said no further details would be available until this autumn, prompting the FT to undertake its own quick survey of regional price differences. This showed huge variation as measured by the high street bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich - favoured by many as a lunchtime snack. The BLT, adopted as an indicator emblematic of homegrown catering enterprise, in contrast to the Big Mac used by some economists for international comparisons, more than doubles in price as you travel south. In Glasgow it cost as little as 90p, rising to £1 in Newcastle and then soaring to £1.90 in Birmingham, before hitting a giddy £2.30 in London. Similar trends are apparent in the cost of a cup of tea, a pint of beer and a saloon car. But variations in house prices are the real deal breaker for public-sector employers trying to hire staff for lower-waged posts. In Glasgow and Newcastle, a three-bed semi costs about £130,000, rising to more than £200,000 in leafy suburbs of Birmingham, such as Harborne.

In Muswell Hill, a London price hotspot in recent years, the figure leaps to more than £400,000.One problem statisticians will have to wrestle with is the enormous disparity in prices found within some individual locations. An example is Newcastle, a compact city where millionaires and some of the Britain's poorest people inhabit parallel universes, almost in walking distance of each other. Another difficulty is that people live differently in different places. In Glasgow there are very few of the typical Coronation Street two-up two-downs that form the bottom rung of the property ladder in many English towns. Most inner-city residents live in tenements of the kind inhabited by the Broons, the eternal Glaswegian family immortalised by cartoonist Dudley Watkins. Regional price indices should be useful not just to employers, but to the 20,000 public employees the government is planning to transfer from the capital to bolster regional economies. Many are likely to feel like collective farmers, relocated to a frontier province by an Iron Curtain regime. The figures should demonstrate that at least their money will go further out in the boondocks.

From Financial Times, UK, by Jonathan Guthrie, Chris Tighe and David Firn, 11 April 2003

Duma Votes to Rank Civil Servants

The State Duma on Wednesday approved a Kremlin-sponsored plan to rank civil service workers the same way military officers are ranked in the army. But promotions will be tied to how long the bureaucrats have worked in the government, not to their job performance. "We have made a mistake. We have created a bureaucratic police state," Boris Nadezhdin, deputy head of the Union of Rights Forces, told reporters. His faction, Yabloko and the Communist Party had pushed to amend the bill Wednesday but were outvoted by pro-Kremlin factions led by Unity. Deputies passed the bill 243-148 in a second reading. There were two abstentions. The draft law on the system of government service, which would replace a 1995 law, is part of a Kremlin effort to streamline bureaucracy and shed thousands of jobs. The legislation spells out the rules of employment in Russia's bloated army of bureaucrats. It allows vacancies to be filled on a competitive basis but effectively allows bureaucrats serving in state agencies to stay on until they reach retirement age regardless of their performance, opponents said. The new legislation identifies three types of state workers - bureaucrats, military personnel and law enforcers - who are hired under contract.

Civil servants will be awarded ranks like in the military and police, making it easy for those in the army and police to find jobs as bureaucrats when they retire and for regional officials to find federal jobs, said Fatherland-All Russia Deputy Viktor Grishin, who heads the Duma's regional policy committee. Other deputies complained that while the bill is designed to slash the number of notoriously corrupt bureaucrats and make their work more transparent, the end result might be that the remaining workers aren't properly qualified for their jobs. Nadezhdin said the bill completely overlooks professionalism and competence in deciding who gets promoted. "I guess we will end up with State Fisheries Committee or Culture Ministry officials wearing epaulets," he said. Union of Rights Forces Deputy Vladimir Yuzhakov, who with Nadezhdin submitted dozens of amendments to the bill, called the version passed Tuesday a lost opportunity. "We could have created a basis for reforming government service with this bill but instead have created the brakes for the reform," he said. The Communists also lashed out at the legislation, saying it will create a caste of bureaucrats. "The bill places them above the law," Deputy Nikolai Kolomeitsev said. Minutes before the vote Tuesday, deputies took out a clause that bureaucrats could not be affiliated with a political party. The bill still needs to be passed in a final reading before it can be sent to the Federation Council and President Vladimir Putin for their approval.

From Moscow Times, Russia, by Oksana Yablokova, 15 April 2003

Public Administration: First Yes from Senate for Modernisation

First yes of the Senate to the bill for modernising the public administration. The law, that is on its way to the House for a definite 'yes', contains certain norms on the administrative activity, that modify and integrate the provisions which have been around since 1990. The bill was voted for almost unanimously with negative votes only from the Greens and the Reformed Commnist Party.


From Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, 11 April 2003

Civil Servants May Move Out Of The Capital

More than 20,000 public-sector workers could be transferred out of London as part of a package of measures to boost the regions. The Chancellor announced that he had asked Whitehall departments and other public bodies to submit proposals for relocating staff by 2005. Gordon Brown said 10,000 civil service posts had recently been moved out of the capital and indicated that the more would be soon. "Successful relocation out of London by private companies suggests public-sector jobs transferred to regions and nations could exceed 20,000, to the benefit of the whole economy," he said. Mr. Brown said that a regional price index would be published to show variations in inflation rates. That move follows a Whitehall review that found public-sector wages varied far less by region than those in the private sector. It said there was "significant scope" to make public-sector pay more flexible. But Adam Price, Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesman, said the proposed index could be disastrous. "This will create two-tier pay scales and will attract key workers like nurses to relocate in the South-east of England, putting further strain on an already overstretched NHS," he said. Mr. Brown said an extension of regional science and industry councils was being considered and, for the first time, the nine English Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) had been involved in preparatory work for the Budget. "The more each of the UK's regions and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland enter into global competition, the more we must encourage them and help them harness their distinctive strengths, overcome their weaknesses and, with a modern, locally led regional policy, rise to the challenge of making their skills, innovation and enterprise world-class," he said. Sir Graham, who leads the RDAs on Treasury issues, said: "I'm pleased the Treasury has considered our suggestions seriously. We look forward to repeating this exercise in future years to help the Government achieve sustainable economic growth in all UK regions."

From Independent, UK, By Nigel Morris, 19 April 2003

Region Jobs in Civil Service Move

The former head of Wolverhampton Council will spearhead a move which could see more than 20,000 civil service jobs transferred away from the south to the Midlands and the north. Sir Michael Lyons will be in charge of a wide ranging review to relocate public service jobs away from London to the regions under an ambitious plan to save cash and give areas away from the capital more power. Gordon Brown announced the move in the Budget yesterday which will see Sir Michael preside over the biggest shake-up in the civil service in years. Sir Michael, who was chief executive at Wolverhampton and is director of the Institute of Local Government Studies at Birmingham University, was also a major player in the controversial Bain review into firefighters' pay and conditions. Mr. Brown said: "The Government will be examining the scope for relocating civil service and other public service staff from London and the south east to other parts of the country to improve cost effectiveness and achieve a better regional balance of government activity. "Successful relocation out of London by private companies suggests public sector jobs transferred to regions could excede 20,000 to the benefit of the whole country." If the move goes ahead, it is expected that hundreds of new jobs will become available in the Midlands, even though though many staff will move with their jobs, West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson said: "This is good news for the whole of the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Shropshire. "I expect that there will be jobs which become available if this goes ahead because if jobs are transferred not everyone will move away from the south. "It means more power for the regions, which the Government has shown its commitment to." The last relocation review of the civil service, the Hardman Review, saw 10,000 jobs transferred out of London to the regions.

From Wolverhampton, UK, by Anne Alexander, 10 April 2003

Scottish Public Spending Highest in World

Scotland's government spending is set to become the highest in the developed world, relative to the country's economic size, as a result of Gordon Brown's tax-and-spend bonanza. A study by The Scotsman has for the first time placed Scotland in the international spending league tables - and found it to be only months away from overtaking Sweden for the top slot. This will torpedo the argument that more funding will solve Scotland's problems - and expose the fact that the Executive has been sitting on a world-class budget for the past four years. The Scotsman has placed Scotland in the 27-country league table compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This measures spending as a ratio of gross domestic product, the main measure of national income. By next year, spending on Scotland by Holyrood and Westminster is forecast to be £46 billion, or 53 per cent of Scotland's GDP. This would overtake Sweden (51 per cent) and be well ahead of France (49 per cent), Germany (45 per cent) and the rest of the UK (39 per cent). The disclosure was met with a mixed response by the four main Holyrood parties - all of whom propose at least one measure of further spending increases in their manifestos.

The Scottish National Party said that as the spending limit is set by Westminster, the question should be whether Jack McConnell's administration could have done more with the money. "People will be surprised that we are paying more tax but are not seeing services improving," said Andrew Wilson, the SNP's economics spokesman. The Scottish Conservatives, who have decided against spending cuts, said the figures show Scotland has long had the money needed for world-class public services. "Instead, we've had six years of tax and waste and failure," said David McLetchie, the party leader. "The size of government is swelling in Scotland and the money is not reaching the people it's intended for." He added that his recent canvassing has led him to believe there is no longer public demand for more spending. "I rarely hear people saying, 'If only we could spend more.' They are saying, 'We are spending more and what are we getting for it?'," he said. Andy Kerr, the finance minister, said the international comparison would not push him into a tax-cutting agenda. "This is not the time to cut public services for Scotland's children and older people as the Tories and the Nationalists seem to want," he said. "Labour will instead deliver real improvements through our reforms in health, education, criminal justice and transport."

The Scottish People's Alliance, formed last month by defecting Tories, said it is the only party which regards high public spending as a problem that needs to be controlled. "What more evidence do you need that the Labour Party are killing the Scottish economy?" said a spokesman. "We are the only party brave enough to tackle this by proposing to cut income tax by the full 3p." Scotland's public spending has long been higher than that of England - a historic advantage being slowly eroded by the Barnett Formula, used to divide up the UK budget. Mr. Brown's spending bonanza is aimed at lifting England to public spending levels enjoyed both by Scotland and the rest of Europe - specifically health spending. As the Barnett Formula leaves the Chancellor unable to decouple Scotland from the equation, extra cash is automatically added to Scotland's already high base. Scotland now spends more of its national income on health than any other country in the developed world. While this has led to higher hospital staffing levels, Scotland's life expectancy remains the lowest in Europe.

From The Scotsman, UK, 22 April 2003

Thinktank Backs New Model for Public Services

Ministers could improve some public services by setting up public interest companies on the model of NHS foundation trusts, the left of centre thinktank the Institute of Public Policy Research will propose this week. The distinctive feature of such companies is that while they deliver a public service, they are independent of the state and do not have shareholders. The IPPR report says there are serious problems in delivering complex public services through shareholder-owned companies. Backbench Labour MPs are likely to study the IPPR's ideas closely as Tony Blair re-enters domestic politics determined to maintain the momentum for public sector reform. The report, the product of more than a year's research, says that the public sector already has public interest companies, such as Network Rail, city academies and housing associations. It argues that the format could be extended to areas including primary care trusts, foundation hospitals, the troubled British Energy group, schools and urban regeneration schemes. The idea is already being greeted with enthusiasm by ministers eager to find a middle way between privatisation and traditional public ownership.

Indeed, the report warns that public interest companies (PICs) are in danger of becoming a new political fad and the automatic solution for ministers seeking to revive troubled public services. It suggests that ministers need first to examine difficult issues surrounding risk, governance and the role of profit in public services. By putting the controversial idea of NHS foundation trusts in a wider centre-left context, the report may also provide some political relief to the health secretary, Alan Milburn. Paul Maltby, IPPR public interest company research fellow, said yesterday: "Public interest companies are at the root of the debate over foundation hospitals, which may become Mr. Blair's biggest domestic challenge. PICs offer the prospect of greater public involvement and could lead to real improvements in the quality of some services." Plans to introduce a foundation trusts bill have been delayed, partly by a desire to avoid domestic controversy during the Iraq war. The report gives a cautious welcome to the idea of devolving power to trusts free from central government restraints.

From Guardian, UK, by Patrick Wintour, 22 April 2003

 

Israel: 6,100 Fewer Public Sector Workers in January

For the first time, public sector salaries dropped sharply in January 2003. Public sector salaries and personnel trends reversed in January 2003. For the first time, the number of public sector employees declined. There were 793,100 public sector employees in January, 6,100 less than in December, a decline of 0.7%, according to a Bank of Israel research department analysis, based on Central Bureau of Statistics figures. There were 1.595 million business sector employees in January, 9,000 less than in December, a decline of 0.5%. The number of business sector employees fell by 2.2%, or 35,700 people, in the preceding 12 months. Since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000, over 50,000 business sector employees have been laid off, 3.2% of the labor force. For the first time, public sector salaries dropped sharply in January. The average public sector salary fell 6.4% in real terms between January 2002 and January 2003. The average business sector salary has fallen 8% in real terms since the beginning of 2002. The average salary in the economy fell 6.3% in real terms. Public sector salaries fell 4.1% in real terms in 2002, compared with a 6.1% drop in business sector salaries. In January, the average gross salary in the public sector was NIS 6,689 and NIS 7,118 in the business sector.

From Globes - www.globes.co.il, by Zeev Klein, 9 April 2003

Baghdad Civil Servants Mull Resuming Work

In an attempt to restore order in Iraq's capital after three weeks of war and days of looting, an opposition figure Sunday called on Iraqi civil servants to "build a new era for Iraq." Many of Baghdad's ranking police officers were on hand as Mohammed Mussen al Zubaydi urged them to help return security to the streets and halt a wave of looting. Zubaydi, who until recently had lived in exile in Britain, told about 1,500 civil servants that if they were police officers or electrical plant workers they should return to their jobs. "We want everyone to do his job to build a new era for Iraq," Zubaydi said. "We don't need any discrimination or differences between people," said Zubaydi. "We all need to work together to build a new Baghdad and a new Iraq." Many of the civil servants gathered in groups outside the meeting hall to coordinate assignments to return to their jobs. Despite the enthusiasm many showed for a return to normalcy, some in the crowd rejected the notion of Zubaydi as an opposition leader. His spokesman referred to him as such. "We don't want a leader. We don't want to talk about the past. We want to move ahead," they said. Nonetheless, the mass meeting represented the first real move by Iraqis themselves to re-establish a civil administration. Many said they wanted to begin work to show the world they could build a democracy in the ruins of Saddam Hussein's regime.

From CNN International, by Jim Clancy, 13 April 2003

 

Janet Reno Addresses Public Service at Notre Dame

South Bemd, Ind. - Janet Reno, former attorney general under President Clinton, addressed more than 400 students and members of the public Tuesday night in Stepan Center at the University of Notre Dame. The nation's former top law enforcement officer praised Notre Dame's "sense of public service" as she discussed issues ranging from Elian Gonzalez to the war in Iraq. She emphasized her experience in public service, which she characterized as "the greatest calling I have ever undertaken." Reno, whose hands were trembling from Parkinson's disease, spoke about her modest upbringing in South Florida. Her family was outgrowing their small frame house, she said, and her mother decided to build a new home. "She dug the foundation with her own hands," Reno said. She recalled when Hurricane Andrew barreled across Florida in 1992. "The world outside looked like a World War I battlefield, but the house had only lost one shingle," she said. Reno used the story as a metaphor for preparedness in life. "It's important to build a solid foundation," she said. Reno discussed her accomplishments in public service, beginning with her tenure as a prosecutor in Dade County, Fla., where she helped to establish the Miami Drug Court at a time when the criminal justice system was bogged down by small drug cases arising from the crack epidemic of the 1980s. The new court helped convicts find rehabilitation and job training in exchange for agreeing to drug testing.

The program proved successful, and hundreds of jurisdictions created their own similar courts. "Recidivism was cut dramatically by the drug court process," Reno said. She also spoke about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. Federal agents entered the cult's compound to arrest cult leader David Koresh on weapons charges. Cult members shot 20 ATF agents, killing four and prompting a 51-day standoff. The siege ended when Reno ordered agents to storm the compound with tear gas and armored vehicles. A raging fire ensued, killing nearly 80 members of the Branch Davidian sect. Reno called that day "the hardest day of my life," but she defended her decision. "I accepted the responsibility for what happened. The buck stops here," she said. Reno was more regretful when she began to discuss her failed bid in the 2002 Florida gubernatorial race. She was defeated in the Democratic primary by Tampa attorney Bill McBride in a close race characterized by massive fund raising. Reno raised about $2.6 million in the campaign, compared to McBride's $4.2 million. "I regret that it was not more of a grassroots campaign at the outset," she said, and went on to call for reforms - including free airtime for candidates - to reduce the necessity of high-dollar campaigns. "We do not have to accept the fact that money controls elections," she said.

Reno went on to propose broad changes in government social programs and policies, criticizing what she called the "cookie cutter education system," calling for schools that focus on students' "aptitudes and interests." She also proposed wider use of affirmative action policies. "Why do we wait until the law school or university level? Why don't we have affirmative action for all our children?" Reno asked. The talk was not all serious, however. Reno joked about her appearance on "Saturday Night Live." "I walked into NBC and there was Will Ferrell, in my blue suit," she said. She praised the actor as "one of the most versatile people I've ever met," but then added softly, "It was a ghastly impersonation." Kim Zigich, the Student Union Board's Director of Programming, invited Reno while she was serving as SUB's programmer of the Ideas and Issues committee. She praised Reno's speech, calling her "someone who could bring different ideas and viewpoints to the campus."

From The South End, MI, by Matt Bramanti, 11 April 2003

Pulitzers Awarded; Boston Globe Wins for Public Service

New York - The Boston Globe won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for ''courageous, comprehensive coverage'' in its disclosures of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post each won three of journalism's most prestigious awards. The feature writing Pulitzer went to The Los Angeles Times' Sonia Nazario for a story about a Honduran boy's search for his mother, who had migrated to the United States. The feature photography prize went to Don Bartletti, also of the Times, for his portrayal of undocumented Central American youths traveling north to the United States. Editor John Carroll reached Bartletti in the Iraqi desert, where he is on assignment. ''After a day in the apocalypse, hearing your applause from back home warms my heart in my little sleeping bag in the Iraqi desert,'' Bartletti said. Alan Miller and Kevin Sack, also of the Los Angeles paper, won the national reporting award for their examination of a military aircraft, the Harrier, linked to the deaths of 45 pilots. ''It's a tribute to pilots who lost their lives in the Harrier and those who are still flying it in Iraq and elsewhere,'' Miller said.

The international reporting award went to the Post's Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, a married couple, for stories on Mexico's criminal justice system. Colbert I. King won for commentary for his columns ''that speak to people in power with ferocity and wisdom.'' Stephen Hunter won for his "authoritative film criticism that is both intellectually rewarding and a pleasure to read." The Globe's public-service award was its 17th Pulitzer overall and third for that category. In awarding the prize, the Pulitzer board cited the paper's "courageous, comprehensive coverage of sexual abuse by priests, an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church." ''You made history this past year. And you made the world a better and safer, and more humane place,'' Globe Editor Martin Baron told staffers. For breaking news, the staff of The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., won for stories on the accidental drownings of four boys in the Merrimack River. It was the 60,000-circulation newspaper's second Pulitzer; it also won in 1988.

The Wall Street Journal staff won for explanatory reporting for a series of stories on corporate scandals in America. Clifford J. Levy of The New York Times won the investigative reporting prize for a series on the abuse of mentally ill adults in New York State-regulated homes. Health reporter Diana K. Sugg of The (Baltimore) Sun won for beat reporting for ''stories that illuminated complex medical issues through the lives of people.'' Sugg's entry included a story about the prevalence of stillbirth in seemingly routine pregnancies. Cornelia Grumman, of the Chicago Tribune, won the editorial prize for editorials against the death penalty. The editorial cartooning award went to David Horsey of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer for work ''executed with a distinctive style and sense of humor.'' It was the newspaper's second Pulitzer; its first was won by Horsey in 1999. ''Just like in '99, I owed it all to Bill Clinton, so maybe this time it's all W,'' he said, referring to President Bush. The prizes are awarded by Columbia University on recommendations of the Pulitzer board, which considers nominations from jurors in each category. Each prize is worth $7,500, except for public service, in which a paper receives a gold medal.

From Miami Herald, FL, by Sara Kugler, 8 April 2003

The Personnel Committee of the Hamblen County Commission Voted to Recommend to the Full Commission to Adopt the Civil Service Act for the Hamblen County Sheriff's Department

The move came Monday during committee meetings, with the sheriff's department well represented by approximately two dozen employees. Deputy Jeff Seals, spokesman for the group, outlined the need for civil service protection for the department's employees. As at-will employees, deputies were at the mercy of an incoming sheriff to keep their jobs. With elections for sheriff every four years, a department employee could go through eight elections throughout a standard 30-year career. Civil service also sets a standard for hiring, promotions and testing for applicants. "It creates a level playing field for everyone," Seals said. The only department employees not covered by civil service is the sheriff, chief deputy, sheriff's secretary, and the department's cook. The committee will also recommend to the commission the civil service board be installed and all guidelines be in place by January 1, 2004. This action is a second attempt to get civil service protection for the sheriff's department. Initial action was taken in the mid-1980s; however, the move never came to fruition at the time. In other committee action, the sub-committee of Public Services will meet again at noon, Monday, April 21, for more discussion on the garbage fund issue. With a fund deficit looming larger, the sub-committee chose to investigate all possible options for the future of garbage, recycling and brush pickup for county residents. Options may include property tax increases, monthly charges for pick-up and even cessation of recycling and brush pick-up entirely. The committee will attempt to make a recommendation about the garbage fund at the May meeting of the full commission.

From Morristown Citizen Tribune, TN, 15 April 2003

Willing Public Servants Address Seniors at Forum

With only weeks to go before the Annual Town Election, a number of political hopefuls showed up last Friday at a special Candidates' Forum sponsored by the Council On Aging to make known their positions and meet some voters. And although attendance at the forum was modest, that did not stop the candidates from pressing on with their campaigns. "I hope to learn and grow more," Board of Health candidate Holly Bradman told residents Friday. "I had a choice, and decided to give back to the community." Bradman, a horse owner, said the board's recent deliberations over new stabling policies was the issue that catalyzed her interest in running for a single year term on the Board of Health. Other issues of concern for Bradman, who told voters that she felt her experience in facilities management and Real Estate sales have prepared her well for the types of issues often addressed by the board, included the impending sale of the Belmont Springs company and local water quality. "We need to maintain our sources of water in town," Bradman said. Water quality and availability was also on the mind of DPW board incumbent candidate Fred Farmer who told those in attendance that uppermost in his mind was the protection of the town's wells and storage tanks as well as maintaining the infrastructure that supplies residents with clean water. Farmer, who has just completed a one-year term on the DPW Board and is now seeking a three-year term, also suggested the need to "stabilize" the increasing demand for clean water and to control growth in order to satisfy the needs of the future.

With the future in mind, Farmer called for the purchase of a well site on Nashua Road, the installation of a water pump on Maple Street, and continued negotiations with Dunstable for access to its water reserves in exchange for equipment and water maintenance technologies. Also seeking election to the DPW board is former Fire Chief John Marriner who cited his many years of public service and long time experience in the general contracting field as qualifications. "I would like to bring some of my expertise to the town," said Marriner adding that what Pepperell needs is public servants who could think "outside the box." As an example, Mariner cited the need for traffic control at the intersections of Elm and Main Streets. The cost of the most obvious solution, electrified signals, would be a prohibitive $200,000. "We don't have that kind of money," Marriner said. "The elderly don't want to see their taxes go up. But maybe a convex mirror will work. I just don't know, these ideas are like mud, you throw it at a wall and sometimes mud sticks." Marriner claimed that towns as well as state government are afflicted with what he called "tax-itis," and that new, less expensive solutions to problems had to be found.

Fiscal management was also on the mind of School Committee candidate Arnold Silva, who is running for one of two open seats on the district committee. "It's not fun, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to make ends meet," declared Silva of the hard choices school officials have been forced to make in recent months to contend with state cuts in local aid. "I think it's time for new ideas and new ways of looking at things," said Silva, whose background is in finance. "The people we have in the school department may be very well qualified, but maybe it's time for a change. Budgets are still going to be an issue at least through July, so I will have the time to participate (in the process)." Housing Authority member Robert Russell, who is running for re-election to a five-year term, attended Friday's event armed with previously prepared facts and figures including a list of the number of houses owned and operated by the town which include a 51-unit complex for the elderly on Foster Street. According to Russell, because of "a little problem with our new governor," the Authority has had to cut back the hours of some of its employees. Few questions from the dozen or so residents who attended Friday's forum resulted in an abbreviated program that soon dissolved into individual discussions between candidates and voters. "They're pretty good," summed up Tucker Street resident Thomas Leary. "They all made sense." The Town Election is scheduled for April 28.

From Townsend Times, MA, by Pierre Comtois, 4 April 2003

Call for Public Servants to Rethink Modes of Operation

IT is being suggested that public services across the Caribbean rethink and reconfigure their modes of operations. The suggestion is coming from Dr. P.I. Gomes, executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD). He reasoned that this approach is necessary since they had to build capacity for Caribbean enterprises to become more competitive, not only within the Caricom Single market and Economy (CSME), but also in view of demands of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) stipulations. He said that as a result, public sector reform (PSR) strategies assume added significance as Member States require "new" institutional support systems, such as business and labour advisory committees; standardisation and monitoring systems for free movement of skills, persons and capital; as well as to ensure the rights of establishment for business and services to be provided by CARICOM nationals across an entire "single economic space", comprising various legal jurisdictions. The complexity of institutional change and development required is evident. Several issues in the area of public administration have implications for more than one government department - as for example, with regard to the establishment of business, whereby permission and statutory regulations cut across, labour, finance, education, social security, health and customs. "When CARICAD speaks of PSR, it is really a comprehensive and coherent, multi-sectoral strategy to transform the culture of public sector management that we are pursuing, by means of multi-disciplinary teams and in strategic partnerships," said the executive director. CARICAD has signed a strategic partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID/C).

This, along with the PSR Fund, will make possible the recruitment of two management specialists with knowledge and expertise in strategic planning, institutional strengthening and financial management relevant to or based on Caribbean socio-economic and political conditions. In this regard, CARICAD has already succeeded in recruiting Mr. Richard Madavo of Zimbabwe, a change management specialist who has over the last years worked with the Governments of Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia on the design and operation of strategic management plans for various government departments, including Customs, Training Divisions, Agriculture and the Police Services. The PSR Fund is meant to be the kernel of a multi-donor facility that will be managed by CARICAD so as to address and add value to country-level initiatives for improved governance and the advancement of regional integration. Such a facility is regarded as an important development in lateral technical cooperation, at a time when many donors are showing increasing concern about the unnecessary duplication of efforts by inefficient use of limited development resources. This is occurring to the detriment of an urgent need to enhance indigenous managerial capacity of Caribbean personnel and reduce exorbitant consulting contracts that only minimally, if at all, provide any "value-added" or major contribution of innovative insights for knowledge and technology transfer. More concentrated and sharply focused efforts will be pursued with assistance of the PSR Fund so that human resources and public sector management systems can be reorganised and strengthened with a view to advancing Caribbean regional integration.

From Barbados Advocate, West Indies, 12 April 2003

Creating Effective Public Service Advertising

The Advertising Council will once again host an educational seminar series, entitled "The Art of Getting Attention: Secrets 2003," on May 8-9 in Washington, D.C. The program will provide the tools and methods essential to creating effective public service communications. Initiated in 2001, the educational seminar will be held every two years. The seminar is designed for government agency and non-profit communications professionals who will benefit from the Ad Council's expertise in public service advertising. Panel discussions led by Ad Council senior staff members and industry leaders will provide valuable advice on the various components of a PSA campaign - including research, marketing, fundraising, media outreach and the evaluation of results. More than 200 professionals attended the 2001 seminar. This year's seminar will feature speakers including Bob Johansen, President, Institute for the Future, and will highlight topics including the importance of knowing your audience, creating better advertising, taking public service messages online and making PSAs newsworthy.

Other speakers will include keynote speaker Andy Goodman, Author, "Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes," Andy Langer, Vice Chairman, Lowe & Partners Worldwide and Jim LeMay, Deputy Managing Editor of CNN. The cost of attending the seminar is $795 for non-profit and government professionals and $1,295 for foundation and corporation professionals. Online registration and additional information is available at online. The seminar is sponsored in part by AT & T. The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a 60-year history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Ad Council icons and slogans are woven into the very fabric of American culture - from Smokey Bear's "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" and McGruff the Crime Dog's: "Take A Bite Out of Crime," to the United Negro College Fund's: "A Mind is a Terrible Thing To Waste," and "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk." The Ad Council received $1.58 billion in donated advertising time and space from the media last year.

From PNN, VA, 15 April 2003

Exemplary Public Service - SARS: Stringent Controls Justified

It is inevitable that public health officials will be second-guessed in taking strict precautions to prevent the spread of SARS. That's understandable, given the hardship and stress that many people are going through. But when all is said and done, we readily appreciate the concern that authorities have about the risks of letting down our guard too soon. Dr. James Young, Ontario's commissioner of public safety, believes the province is close to bringing the contagious disease under control after the three-week containment effort. We hate to think where Ontario would be if officials had been less vigilant. On that score, authorities are fully justified in warning that they will play hardball with any infected persons ignoring quarantine requirements. Of the thousands of people in and around the Greater Toronto Area who have needed to quarantine themselves, only a tiny minority (at least 12) have ignored voluntary isolation requests. In one case, an employee of a Hewlett-Packard plant in Markham who was supposed to be quarantined went to work anyway while suffering SARS symptoms. That's intolerable. People diagnosed with SARS who carry on with business as usual put co-workers, friends and the community at risk. While officials are cautiously optimistic about the progress made in fighting SARS, there is a consensus that hospitals, clinics and family physicians will need to pay more attention to disease prevention and infection control. Authorities are suggesting that when Ontario's hospitals return to normal, it will be "a new kind of normal" to help prevent a repeat of an outbreak as menacing as SARS. The point needs to be followed up once the media move away from the SARS story. For now, we salute the dedication shown by the nurses and physicians who are working tirelessly on the front lines of the fight against SARS. They deserve accolades for exemplary public service in exceptionally difficult conditions.

From Hamilton Spectator, Canada, 15 April 2003

Many Canadians Feel Civil Servants 'Privileged': Poll

Montreal - Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians believed government employees were in a "privileged position," suggests an opinion poll. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents in the Leger Marketing survey replied Yes to the following question: "Do you think public-service employees are in a privileged position as workers?" Another 32 per cent said No, while 10 per cent refused to answer or said they didn't know. The belief that civil servants are privileged was strongest in Quebec, where 75 per cent of respondents thought it was the case. Other regional numbers were: the Atlantic provinces, 62 per cent; Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 54; Ontario, 53; Alberta, 52; and British Columbia, 49.The March 19-23 poll of 1,501 Canadians is considered accurate within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margins of error are higher for the regional numbers. Forty-three per cent of respondents also believed public-service employees are better paid than private-sector workers who do equivalent tasks, compared with 24 per cent who believed there is no difference in remuneration. Another 14 per cent believed people in the private sector are paid more than government employees. The poll also found that 42 per cent of respondents thought government employees work less than people who have equivalent jobs in the private sector. Almost as many - 39 per cent - thought the workload was the same, while six per cent said government employees had more work. Canadians considered municipal workers to be more courteous than their provincial and federal counterparts, the poll indicated. Thirty per cent chose municipal public servants when asked which level of government had the "most efficient and courteous" employees. Seventeen per cent opted for provincial civil servants, while 16 per cent said federal workers were the most pleasant to deal with. Thirty-six per cent refused to answer or said they didn't know.

From The Globe and Mail, Canada, 22 April 2003

Rumsfeld Urges Overhaul of Pentagon Civil Service

Pay for Performance, Shift of 320,000 Jobs, Other Major Powers Sought in Legislation - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wants to implement sweeping changes in the way civilian employees are hired, paid and promoted in the Defense Department. Pentagon officials recently sent a 205-page bill to Capitol Hill detailing a proposed overhaul of the civil service system that would replace guaranteed annual raises for 470,000 workers with a pay-for-performance plan. It also would shift as many as 320,000 military members out of jobs that could be done by civilians, make it easier for the Defense Department to contract out work to the private sector and allow managers to hire and transfer employees without time-consuming competitions. Moreover, the proposal would grant the defense secretary the power to implement major personnel changes over the opposition of the Office of Personnel Management and labor unions. Pentagon officials said the changes are necessary to shape the Defense Department into a modern, responsive bureaucracy capable of efficiently carrying out the government's most important mission, protecting its citizens. "We are trying to create a system in which people can think in one cohesive unit, and then act," said David S. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, speaking yesterday at a human resources forum hosted by the IBM Endowment for the Business of Government. "The current civil service system is rigid. It is not agile," Chu said. "We cannot succeed with the current system." Congress granted similar personnel authority to the new Department of Homeland Security last year. Labor union officials said the jury is still out on whether that round of changes will help or hinder the operation of government. "It is, at best, premature to consider anything like this for [the Pentagon] before what we consider to be the biggest demonstration project ever, which is DHS, has had an opportunity to either succeed or fail," said Jacqueline Simon, director of public policy for the American Federation of Government Employees. "They've barely started."

Simon said union officials are still trying to digest the massive bill. In general, however, union officials have said agencies lack the funding and evaluation systems needed to execute pay-for-performance plans fairly. And they have warned that relaxing civil service rules could lead to cronyism in hiring and promotions. The impact of the bill may be felt far beyond the Defense Department. In addition to DHS, several smaller agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Aviation Administration are operating under special personnel rules. If the Pentagon gets what it wants, about half of the government's 1.8 million civilian employees would no longer work under the traditional civil service system that emphasizes longevity of service in determining pay. Some analysts said the legislation would overtake efforts by some members of Congress to pass government-wide changes in pay and hiring. "It's awful hard to stop this cart from rolling," said John M. Palguta, a former top official at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, where employees can appeal disciplinary and personnel decisions under the current system. "It may be the tipping point. This one is huge. I think where [the Pentagon] goes on this will have a major impact on what might happen for other agencies." The plan will face obstacles from labor unions and some lawmakers, and the administrative challenge of reshaping a bureaucracy as large as the Defense Department, which has at least 620,000 civilian employees. But with the victory in Iraq, Rumsfeld's political standing and influence have never been higher. Republicans control Congress and the White House, and last year's homeland security legislation established a legislative precedent. Officials with key congressional committees said yesterday they were studying the legislation but couldn't comment on its prospects. "The unprecedented package of reforms may well be just what the Department of Defense needs to be a more efficient, flexible fighting force," said Sen.

Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee. "But the package needs to be analyzed further, and questions concerning why certain new authorities are needed must be answered." Harald Stavenas, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee, said, "It's being looked at. Everything is on the table." Defense officials said they hope to start implementing the plan as soon as this fall. They admit that they have not left lawmakers with much time, but said holding off until next year, an election year, would hurt the bill's chances even more. The plan's most ambitious feature is a proposal to toss out the General Schedule for 470,000 white-collar workers (such as scientists, engineers and administrators) and replace it with pay bands, which would create a salary range for certain positions. Top workers would get substantial annual raises based on job evaluations, while low performers would not get raises. The pay band proposal represents a sharp departure from the current system, which guarantees a base-level pay increase every year and rewards longevity as well as performance. Under such a new system, "people who are low performers don't stay in the [agency] workforce," said Ginger Groeber, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. "They move on to something else that is more suited to their capabilities." Groeber and other officials said the pay plan will not require new money; managers would distribute their budgets.

In another significant move, officials would reassign as many as 320,000 military members to jobs that are more directly tied to war-fighting and national security, leaving the tasks they had been doing to civil servants or private contractors, or eliminating the positions. Chu acknowledged the proposal could increase the size of the workforce in the short run, but said costs will not necessarily increase over the long run because of efforts to streamline the Defense Department. Managers also would be able to hire workers more quickly for hard-to-fill posts, gain new authority to hire retirees and temporary workers, and be able to transfer employees to other positions without a competitive process as long as the new job pays no more than the old one, officials said. The department would be able to move work from federal employees to private contractors on the basis of who offers the "best value" rather than the current standard of lowest cost. Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University and a scholar at the Brookings Institution, called the current civil service system "a disaster" and "devastatingly inefficient." The Defense Department wants to race ahead of what so far have been mere "baby steps" of reform in federal agencies, he said. "This reform goes too far in the sense of giving an agency basically carte blanche in determining what its personnel system looks like," Light said, "but unless OPM and Congress can come up with something more radical than what's currently on the agenda, I'd say go for it."

From Washington Post, DC, by Christopher Lee, 22 April 2003

S&P Comments on Public Service Co of New Mexico

New York - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that Public Service Co. of New Mexico's (BBB-/Stable/--) announcement that it is one of the defendants named in 20 asbestos-related lawsuits filed April 17, 2003, is not good for the company's credit quality. However, until the company is able to determine whether or not the lawsuits will have a significant negative impact on its financial profile, Standard & Poor's will maintain its stable outlook on the ratings.

From Forbes, 24 April 2003

Lovell Calls for Anti-corruption

Senator Harold Lovell has challenged the Lester Bird administration to introduce anti-corruption legislation to eliminate the public's perception that all politicians are "scamps and vagabonds." In his contribution to the 2003 debate in the Senate on Tuesday, Lovell made specific reference to the situation in Trinidad & Tobago, where the former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had failed to disclose monies in his bank account and where that case is now before the High Court in Trinidad. Senator Lovell acknowledged that Trinidad & Tobago has enacted the necessary legislation to bring their politicians to account "because for too long now people see politicians as crooks and thieves." "And if that image of a person who puts himself forward to serve is to be changed, then it means that the necessary legislation must be put into place so that persons who serve in public office can show a clean slate and can be held to account at all times," Lovell said. "We have not heard anything about that. We heard something about an act which is going to require the tabling of accounts and that type of thing but it is already provided for in the constitution," he added.

Senator Lovell called for the government to be serious about the issue at hand and stop skirting around it. He said for too long government has been dragging its feet on the issue. "What I am calling for Madame President, is for the enactment of a genuine anti corruption act in this country and a commitment from the government that it will be done within this legislative session," Lovell said. "It was promised in the last (legislative session), it was promised in the one before the last and it was promised in the one before the one before the last. The time has come for us to stop promising to enact anti- corruption legislations and to enact it or else one will be left with the inescapable conclusion that this government does not seriously wish to tackle corruption within its rank, that this government does not wish to present a clean slate and that as some people would say they are nothing but a bunch of vagabonds," he added. The senator said he was not too sure whether the integrity in Public Office Act will be tabled during this session of Parliament.

From Antigua Sun, Antigua, 24 April 2003

Local NAACP Investigates Wilmington's Civil Service Commission

The local NAACP branch is investigating the city commission charged with giving due process to the city's fire and police personnel. "We were concerned about the decisions they made," said Marguerite M. Brown, secretary of the New Hanover County branch of the NAACP, which said in a news release last week it was investigating the five-member board. The executive committee of the local branch of the NAACP met recently to review recent rulings of the Civil Service Commission, which reinstated two Wilmington police officers after the controversial driving while impaired arrest of a black city councilwoman last November. After an internal police investigation into Mayor Pro Tem Katherine Moore's arrest, which the district attorney dismissed due to a lack of evidence, Wilmington police Chief John Cease fired arresting officer Paul Nevitt and demoted the supervisor, Sgt. Lisa Kittrell. But the Civil Service Commission reversed the two disciplinary actions. "We felt that there was some violation of the rules, but we didn't think they met the standard of what was done to (Sgt. Kittrell)," said Samuel Warshauer, a member of the commission since 1982. Warshauer said the commission didn't "really have a hearing" on Nevitt, who now works for Sheriff Sid Causey. "We had a deal that if he was reinstated by the commission he would resign, and the city agreed to that. No one had any objections.

He didn't do anything dishonorable," Warshauer said. "It was maybe a little lapse in judgment," he added. "He thought he was doing the right thing." Five people make up the commission, and each is selected by the members of five different institutions: the police and fire departments, the City Council, the New Hanover County Medical Society's governing board and the Wilmington Ministerial Association. Cease questioned the commission's rules, which haven't been reviewed in some time. "(The Civil Service Commission) appears to be somewhat antiquated," he said. "It's never been modernized or changed with the times." Giving an officer access to due process and preventing them from being fired on a whim are valid reasons for the commission's existence, the chief said. "It forces you to be a good personnel manager," he said. But while Cease said he has to live with his decisions being reversed, he said he thinks the City Council may evaluate the commission in the future. "People expect to know the facts (of cases), sort of like a trial," he said, referring to commission hearings, which are closed unless the employee being heard requests otherwise. "It makes it different and confusing to the public," Cease said, while acknowledging the difficulty of the issues and an employee's right to privacy.

From Sarasota Herald-Tribune, FL, 27 April 2003

 
 

Australia Continues to Deliver on e-Government

Australia continues to be recognised as a world leader in the delivery of government services online, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, said in a media release yesterday. Commenting on eGovernment Leadership: Engaging the Customer, a report by Accenture, Senator Alston said that the Federal Government's framework for the next stage of e-government was cited in the report as featuring "many of the hallmarks of leading-edge thinking about e-government today." Unfortunately, Senator Alston's office did not have a copy of the report in digital form to email to us. A hard copy was available for faxing, though. Accenture, despite its supposed accent on customer relationship management, had a broken link to the PDF of this report on its site (scroll to the bottom for the link). In the absence of the report, we continue from the media release. "The important issue for Australia is not our precise ranking in this survey - as Australia has ranked in the top five countries in various e-government reports over the last 12 months - but that we are consistently amongst the leaders. Internationally, we are recognised for our leadership in implementing and delivering e-government and in developing frameworks that support the transition from paper-based service delivery to electronic formats," Senator Alston said. The media release said the most significant worldwide example of customer relationships management was Centrelink which "leads the world in delivering integrated multi-channel multi-agency services to individuals". It also said Australia saw e-government as part of a wider transformation agenda, and, like other world leaders in this area, was adopting delivery mechanisms appropriate to its circumstances.

From Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, 9 April 2003

MS Digital Democracy

Microsoft aims to reduce the digital divide in the country through its e-governance initiatives - It's hard work by a software major. Software giant Microsoft is now spearheading e-governance initiatives across India in a big way. The company started this initiative in 1997. "The biggest bottleneck in India today is the digital divide," says Shailender Kumar, group manager, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd. Globally, the company is actively supporting e-governance initiatives in 45 countries. Recently, the company signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the government of Uttaranchal, under which it will jointly develop and deploy an array of technology solutions for e-governance in the state. With the signing of the MoU, the Department of Information Technology (DOIT) will attain the status of a strategic Microsoft technology partner for the Uttaranchal government and it will consult, develop and execute systems integration projects on Microsoft technologies. The MoU also entails the setting up of two centres of excellence for e-governance in the state. These centres will help in facilitating the state government and university to conduct technical training sessions for government personnel. Further, the MoU will also focus on launching a Hindi lab in Dehradun to promote the use of Hindi in government workflow applications. Microsoft will also provide its consulting resources to the Uttaranchal government for the development and implementation of 'Project Haridwar', which proposes to offer services tr pilgrims visiting Haridwar.

Microsoft has so far signed MoUs with 12 Indian states. Recently, when Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates visited India, he announced that his company would deepen its commitment to India by making investments to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore over the next three years in several areas, including education, partnerships, innovation, localisation and its development centre. Under the Project Shiksha programme, Microsoft aims to accelerate computer literacy by proving end-to-end solutions. Over 80,000 school teachers and 3.5 million students across government schools are expected to benefit from this initiative over the next five years. Microsoft also aims to set up 10 state of the art Microsoft IT Academy Centres in partnership with state education departments, in addition to collaborating with over 2,000 partner driven school labs. The company has also jumped into the vernacular space in a big way. Currently the ubiquitous Windows XP has been localised in nine Indian languages. Two more languages, Bengali and Malayalam, will be added to this basket soon. The company has further strengthened its relationship with the government of Karnataka. The company plans to partner and collaborate with the government in the areas of education and citizen services. This is in addition to the existing relationship that Microsoft has with the Karnataka government on e-governance.

The Smart School initiative is modelled on Microsoft's connected learning vision, which is aimed towards building a digital learning community. A key component of this project is the setting up of Smart Schools in five core divisions across the state on a pilot basis. Microsoft will provide the software solutions and teacher training to these schools and also develop an IT related curriculum for them. Microsoft officials are gung-ho about the e-governance project. Says Mr. Kumar, "Most state governments have earmarked an IT budget in their 10th Plan. In fact, most politicians and bureaucrats are upbeat about the IT benefits that can be passed on to the common man. It ultimately leads to a transparent and efficient government." This is not all. Microsoft has also undertaken a number of e-governance initiatives in the recent past. It has worked with Andhra Pradesh Technology Services on several e-governance initiatives. The hazard mitigation information system, for instance, helps in minimising losses and damage caused due to natural calamities like droughts and cyclones. The other significant joint project is the computer aided administration of commercial taxes. Prior to its implementation, the process was plagued with tedious manual systems, which often resulted in inaccurate estimation and collection of commercial taxes.

Since its implementation, the project has already resulted in the detection of Rs 3,402 lakh of turnover evaded and officials have collected Rs 211.83 lakh in tax. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Microsoft is working with ELCOT (Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu) to make digital democracy a reality in the state. The company is working with ELCOT in the area of computerisation of various government departments in the state. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has developed a software for the Indian police and other law enforcement agencies. This Microsoft government solution for simplyfying crime records is based on MS Windows 2000 Advanced Server, MS SQL Server 7 Enterprise, MS Visual Basic 6.0, MS Back Office Server and MS Exchange. But Microsoft is not alone in this initiative. Recently, when Sun Microsystems president and CEO Scott McNealy came visiting, he said Sun would donate $300 million worth of software and a set of programmes aimed at the educational sector in the country. Mr. McNealy further announced that the Indian government and Sun were in discussions about possible areas of cooperation.

From Indian Express, India, by Aparna Ramalingam, 29 March 2003

Japan Lags Behind in E-government Programs: Report

Japan still lags behind in terms of the maturity of e-government programs for the implementation of online services by state agencies, according to a recent survey by U.S. consulting firm Accenture. In its report "eGovernment Leadership: Engaging the Customer," Accenture ranked Japan 15th among the 22 governments surveyed, up two places from last year's report. Canada topped the list for the third consecutive year. Each government is placed in one of five basic brackets of maturity, according to the sophistication of its online services. Accenture based its study on "quantitative and qualitative" research conducted in January through actual use of services. The report said the Canadian government is the only one that has reached the fifth and highest stage - "service transformation." In the fourth group - "mature delivery" - are Singapore, ranked second behind Canada, the United States, Denmark, Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, Britain, Germany, Ireland and France. Japan was placed in the third stage - "service availability" - along with the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Italy and Malaysia. Referring to the progress Japan has made under the government's e-Japan program, Accenture said it had basic portals built with the goal of quickly making as many services available online as possible, however its customer-relations management is still poor.

Tax returns online - The National Tax Agency has announced that taxpayers living in Aichi, Shizuoka, Mie and Gifu, the four prefectures under the administration of the Nagoya Regional Taxation Bureau, will be able to file their tax returns online beginning in February. The agency said it plans to expand the electronic tax filing and payment system across the nation in June 2004. In the initial stage, the Nagoya Regional Taxation Bureau will accept online filing of individual income taxes and consumption tax. The filing of corporate taxes will be able to be carried out electronically beginning in late March, along with tax payments via the Internet. To file returns electronically, a taxpayer needs to upload special software, which provides the necessary forms and instructions on how to fill them out. The National Tax Agency says it decided to launch the electronic tax filing system on a staggered schedule to ensure the system is safe and secure.

From The Japan Times, 14 April 2003

Civil Servants to Get More Training on e-Government

The effort to ensure that civil servants are ready and have the know-how to operate in the new e-Government format is now being stepped up through the Civil Service Institute or IPA. Also in place and continuously refined and upgraded is the effort to increase efficiency, productivity and quality of service in the present government machinery through training and retraining programmes. "During the past 12 months of last year only some 51 courses and training programmes on human resource development, IT, quality and productivity were conducted for 4,818 participants that comprise civil servants from various government agencies". "This year the number of programmes and courses provided is increasing. From January to April this year some 42 programmes and courses have already been conducted," said the Director of IPA, Dr. Awang Azahairaini bin Haji Mohd Jamil. He said about half of these programmes and courses were designed to provide the participants with new knowledge and know-how on ICT. "The aim is not only to help participants to increase their computer literacy but also on how to make IT a culture in the government community," said the Director of IPA. "This is in line with the government's effort to gear up the civil servants towards the eventual formation of the e-Government machinery," he added in an interview with the Bulletin yesterday. He said that running parallel to this effort is also the ongoing programme to increase the productivity, efficiency and quality of service of the civil service.

However, Dr Azahairaini conceded that the big challenge for IPA is not just in providing the human resource development programmes and training courses to participants. "Our concerned in IPA has been always the effectiveness of our programmes and training courses in meeting the need of the public sector to have efficient, effective, customer-oriented and dynamic civil service. On the other hand we are also dealing with the bigger issue of changing mindset". In this context, IPA is apparently setting the pace to do its housekeeping first and change the mindset of its own community. According to Dr. Azahairaini, a new organisational structure has already been put in place in IPA. Now five sections, namely, the Training and Development, the Support Services Section, the Administration and Management Section, Research and Development and the MIS and ICT Section, support IPA. IPA has also drawn up a five-year strategic plan to become one of the best institutes among partners in Human Resource Development in the Asean region," explained the Director. "Our strategies are to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative and management systems of IPA, to develop staff expertise in specific management, administration and ICT disciplines and to improve the quality of HRD in accordance with the needs of customers."

From Borneo Bulletin, Brunei, by Malai Hassan Othman, 22 April 2003

S. Africa Seeks India's Aid in IT Sector

Bangalore - A business-cum-Government delegation from South Africa today sought for greater cooperation between India and South Africa for expanding Information and Communication Technology in both the countries. "Both of us should partner on our mutual strength and build business and government relations", South African Minister for Communications Ivy Matsepe Casaburri said here today. Addressing members of NASSCOM here, she further said that besides commercial aspects of IT, India could share its rich experience on E-governance and E-initiatives for development purposes. South Africa could offer Indian IT Companies the best advantage and help them make forays into Europe and the United States, Casaburri said. She said the timing of the delegation, which also included officials from some of the IT companies in South Africa, was appropriate as countries in the African continent were looking inward for cooperating mutually to ensure better development. She also wanted India to consider South Africa for setting up disaster recovery systems. In his Address, NASSCOM Chairman Som Mittal said India was expected to get business worth $17 billion by way of Business Process Outsourcing by the year 2008. The sector was growing at about 65 per cent, he said and went on to add that the domestic IT market was expected to touch $25 billion by 2008 with exports contributing $50 billion dollars by then.

From The Hindu, India, 24 April 2003

 

UK: UK 'Must Redesign' e-Gov Sites

Nearly 80 per cent of UK central government Web sites need to be redesigned before they can be fully accessible to users with disabilities, judging from a leaked report from the e-Envoy's office. According to eGov Monitor Weekly around 800 public sector Web sites may need rebuilding to comply with accessibility laws requiring government services to cater for people with disabilities. The claim is based on details leaked from an internal report carried out by the Office of the e-Envoy (OeE), the cabinet office unit responsible among other things for improving the accessibility and usability of UK government Web sites. The OeE report draws upon the findings by the National Audit Office investigation, which examined the accessibility of 65 central government Web sites and concluded that nearly all were potentially excluding users. EGov Monitor estimates that to fix the problems, government departments may need to spend at least 10 percent to 15 per cent of their total annual budget for Web sites. Editor Ian Cuddy told ElectricNews.Net that it was difficult to put a precise figure on the total cost of the redesigns required because the OeE has refused to release further details of the audit, but it is expected to run into millions.

The OeE has now warned the Web design industry that future government contracts will demand that companies deliver Web sites that conform to international Web accessibility standards. Current responsibility for adopting these standards rests with individual government webmasters, not designers, and compliance is not centrally monitored. "The responsibility for accessibility is not isolated to the supplier," said Cuddy. "The people in government looking after the standards have also got a responsibility. The report doesn't reflect very well on them." Some of the government Web sites may just require just front-end changes, but others may need a more extensive re-working of their architectures. The high cost involved in these more serious redesigns highlights the fact that it is much cheaper to design in accessibility from scratch rather than add it on at a later stage, said Cuddy. The news comes at a time when the government is planning to downgrade the office of e-envoy, something that looks set to be strongly opposed.

From The Register, UK, 10 April 2003

E-government Targets Strain Council Budget

Cumbria reviews third-party options to maximise its £10m annual IT spend - Cumbria County Council is considering how best to use third-party help to meet e-government targets and stay within its £10m annual IT spend. Following an internal review the council concluded that already rising IT costs will increase even further unless an expert IT provider is strategically partnered or used as an outsourcer. The council has already posted a tender in its search for a partner. Alan Cook, project manager at Cumbria County Council, said the authority has yet to make a decision on which route to take. "We've not decided whether to create a limited company [with a partner] or to take on an outsourcer," he added. With central government as well as individual departments setting online targets, the council has decided that third-party skills will help keep costs down and service levels up. "It may cost a few million more to provide the services and meet online targets but we think that, by working with a partner, the service improvement will be better than if did this in-house," said Cook. More and more councils are involved in strategic partnerships with IT suppliers in joint ventures, with cost savings, innovation and even profits as the incentives of this alternative to outsourcing. Kate Mountain, chief executive at local government IT group Socitm, said the choice between strategic partnering and outsourcing depends on the attitude of individual local authorities to "risks and rewards". "The risk of strategic partnerships is higher but the benefits can be better," she explained. "But if a council wants a more straightforward development they will probably choose outsourcing."

From VNUNet, UK, by Karl Flinders, 11 April 2003

KPMG e-Government Survey

Our enthusiasm for e-government appears to be on the rise according to a new survey released by KPMG Consulting. In a repeat of its February 2001 study, KPMG's research shows that two-thirds of Brits would now like at least one local service available for interaction online. Initially looking at levels of connectedness, the new figures reveal that half the British population now has access to the Internet at home or work. This level is up significantly from the 44% mark of last year. More folk have access at home than at work still in 2002, with only nearing a quarter of the population getting online from their workplace. The data also shows that a further 27% of those without online access at home or work predict they will be online in three years' time. Such a shift would bring overall Internet access up to 63% by 2005. Residents are increasingly looking forward to a wired local government. When asked about preferences in their choice of media for dealing with the services in the near future (3 years time), respondents viewed new media favourably. The most popular option emerged as being via a traditional call centre (30%), followed by via the Net (19%), a local office (15%) and through the Post Office (10%).

Respondents' vision for an electronic future was perhaps clearer when questioned as to specific activities. When asked which activities they would be prepared to do electronically, nearly three fifths (57%) of all adults thought they would choose to carry out a local government activity electronically. The study also reveals that just over a third claimed that they would vote in a local council or general election (38%); apply for/renew a passport (37%); book an appointment with a GP (37%);get health information via NHS Direct (37%); renew their car tax (36%); notify their council of a fault (35%); or renew their TV licence (34%). Less encouragingly, a third (31%) stated that they would not expect to interact electronically at all. The KPMG research was conducted by MORI, interviewing 2,028 adults aged 16+ in their homes during February 21 to 26, 2002. Comparisons were made with the 2001 KPMG e-Government survey, conducted by MORI between February 15 and 20, 2001.

From Daily Research News Online, UK, 11 April 2003

Bristol City Select Mayrise Management Systems for e-Government Push

Bristol City Council has awarded a contract to Mayrise Systems for the latest generation computerised system to manage council cleansing services. The system will be part of a Web-integrated IT solution for the council's new Customer Services Centre being set up for council's Neighbourhood and Housing Services Department. Used initially for managing refuse & recycling collections the MAYRISETM system will be quickly extended to other applications such as street cleansing, building cleaning and abandoned vehicles. MAYRISE is being linked to a FrontLine Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system from Lagan that records incoming calls and will enable the Customer Services officer to answer 80% of the calls at the point of contact. Mayrise has developed an open CRM interface that includes Web-integration using XML. Call centre operators using FrontLine can immediately see details held in MAYRISE through a totally transparent interface. Services will be integrated in a 2 phase approach between the CRM system and MAYRISE. Bristol is a fast evolving city that has become a favourite location for banking, insurance and high tech industries.

The Customer Service Centre is part of the council's Customer Focus Strategy and the aim is to make the new centre a model of best practice, dealing with 80% of customers' calls at the first point of contact. MAYRISE and FrontLine will link to the council's Land and Property Gazetteer so all enquiries are matched to a common address database. This ensures trouble-free interchange on data in line with 'joined up' government and also links to the national dataset, the National Land and Property gazetteer (NLPG). "We needed a system that could manage a broad range of council cleansing services and the Mayrise system had all the functionality needed as well as being affordable and easy to use. At the same time Mayrise has made integration with the CRM system relatively straightforward and will form a key part of the IT solution needed to make the CSC a success" says Chris Williams, Project Manager at Bristol City Council. MAYRISE is a complete management system that holds all asset and service information and is used to schedule and monitor different council services. The software automates many administrative tasks and eliminates paperwork through on-screen forms and electronic communication.

From Environmental Data Interactive, UK, 11 April 2003

E-government Projects High on Agenda in Western Europe, Survey

A series of studies on the status of e-government initiatives in the UK, France, Germany, and Italy, from market researchers IDC, has shown how these countries are making significant progress towards meeting the EU 2005 deadline for the electronic delivery of a wide range of services to internal customers, partners, and citizens. According to the survey results and forecasts, e-government-related IT spending by UK, French, German, and Italian public-sector administrations is expected to peak in 2004 and grow significantly by the end of 2006, focusing on the deployment of IT solutions in the deployment of electronic service delivery, to improve interaction with citizens through governmental portals, call centres, and online counters centred on user rather than service type; the development of e-procurement, to cut purchasing costs and enhance procurement process transparency and price competition; and the implementation or modernization of nationwide networks that support information sharing among administrations. Each country faces a unique set of challenges in implementing an effective e-government strategy. Although the UK government sector is late on a few projects and has to deal with the hurdle of organisational change and complex relationships with private-sector partners, the well-formulated strategy, the organised supporting structure, and the fair economic outlook enabling government to allocate significant funds to IT will prompt growing investments over the next few years.

Investments are expected to grow at a double-digit rate, with a peak between 2004 and 2005. However, central and local authorities have diverse needs and, most importantly, diverse structures that require IT vendors to differentiate their approach. One of the major action fields of the French government strategy has been e-government. As well as promoting internal process modernisation, the French public sector has focused on enabling electronic transactions between central and local agencies and constituents. This transformation includes several initiatives, such as development of websites, deployment of full online transactions, and e-procurement. Given the current situation and the continuous attention to these themes, IDC believes that France still has to work hard on e-government and IT infrastructure, especially at the local level, but it is in a good position to meet most of its e-government targets and become one of the most advanced countries in the implementation of the eEurope 2005 action plan. The German government began its renovation effort with the modernisation of internal processes to make sure that a customer-centric view is supported by effective back-end activities.

Therefore, the implementation of outward-looking IT systems started a little later than in other European countries. However, the BundOnline 2005 programme, at the federal level, and local initiatives have turned e-government into a top IT priority. The analysts argue that IT vendors have the opportunity to bring in critical competencies to ensure that the 2005 deadline is met both centrally, where plans have already been formulated, and locally, where many authorities are still in the early stage of their e-government strategies. Despite lagging in IT investment compared to other major Western European states, Italy has implemented some leading-edge solutions in the area of e-government. The early development of a successful e-procurement platform helped the Italian government to understand that improving accessibility, responsiveness, and the quality of services delivered to citizens through the implementation of multi-channel electronic solutions is a major opportunity to enhance social and economic competitiveness. Therefore, strategic plans and investments in e-government are set to rise in coming years.

From Europemedia.net, Netherlands, 11 April 2003

Public Sector, Stanca: Before Year-end "Yellow Pages" of On-line Services

Caserta - Before the end of the year, consumers and businesses will receive the "Yellow Pages" of Public Sector services available on-line. Lucio Stanca, Minister of Innovation and Technology, announced the news at a training course in "Innovation and Communication" for Government executives taking place in Caserta. The publication, entitled "Avoid cues with clicks", will be presented to the Public Administration Forum planned for May 5 - 9 in Rome and following this event a few million copies will be distributed, at all Public Sector offices and post offices.

From Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, 16 April 2003

Stanca, A National Pact for Innovation

Udine - "A national pact to relaunch and develop innovation in Italy. A few months away from the Italian EU presidency, and while international competition is strengthening, the proposal of a sort of transversal technological and technical coalition has come from Lucio Stanca, Minister for Innovation and Technology, at a conference in Udine. "We need to put together a pact for innovation where the lack of innovation in Italian businesses does not only weigh down their competitiveness, but the development of the entire country. And, so, there must be structural action taken by the government," the minister explained, "not so much to support our industry, which has relevant potential in a bad business climate, as to give a boost to business that do not innovate". With this innovation pact," according to Stanca, "everyone has to do his part to do it together: the central and local institutions, schools and universities, research, the public sector, businesses and the communication world. In an increasingly open, global, and competitive context, even in Italy we must compete in intensity and distribution of innovation because the challenge that we have before us is to choose a model of development based on advanced skills and on innovative technology, forgetting income and position. Italy, in this sense, is now inexorably condemned to innovation".

From Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, 17 April 2003

Global E-government

UK tackles digital divide: The UK government is trying to encourage more people to go on-line, particularly the 38 percent of the adult population who have never used the Internet before. The campaign by the Office of the e-Envoy, due to begin next month, will aim to coax members of the public to take advantage of free Internet services at more than 6,000 'UK On-line' centres around the country. Introductory tutorials will be available for people who wish to learn how to access the Internet, use e-mail and explore e-government services. "The Internet plays an important part in everyone's life and as more government services become available on-line we want to ensure that people can take advantage of them," said e-Envoy Andrew Pinder. "In order to achieve this goal, it is vital that we first address the issue of access." In a second phase of the mission to get the UK on-line, government campaigners will be sent out into towns and cities to recruit the help of local authorities in raising awareness about e-government services. Citizens blast Dutch e-government progress: The government of the Netherlands has drawn public criticism for its delivery of e-services.

The criticism follows a recent global e-government report by consultancy giant Accenture, in which Holland slipped two places in the annual rankings and was described as being more focused on strategy than actual implementation of e-services. A citizen's forum known as burger@overheid, established by the Ministry of the Interior, has criticised the government's unresponsiveness to e-mail and called for it to reply promptly to complaints sent via e-mail. Meanwhile, a second official advisory group called Advies Overheid has accused the Dutch government of not taking the Internet seriously enough. It said that although many government bodies run their own Web sites, many do not even meet the minimum standard required. It also claimed that many departments are slow to change their bureaucratic attitude, which impedes the progress of e-government. Americans divided on e-government: A new study of attitudes toward e-government in the US shows that citizens are divided on the subject of the submission of personal information to government Web sites. "The New E-Government Equation: Ease, Engagement, Privacy and Protection," released by the Council for Excellence in Government, found that almost 45 percent of Americans surveyed strongly agreed that government services would be improved if they disclosed personal details on government Web sites. However, around the same percentage said they felt they risked the security and privacy of their personal data by doing so.

In other findings, around 60 percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to use e-services for everyday transactions with the government, such as renewing drivers' licences or obtaining birth certificates. Still, just 30 percent of respondents supported the idea of on-line voting in elections, with 54 percent strongly opposed to it. Survey respondents cited greater government accountability as the chief benefit of e-government. Estonia's e-tax system gains ground: Estonia's system of on-line tax filing is gaining in popularity, with nearly 140,000 returns filed on-line this year. The numbers are up from last year's approximately 83,000 returns and are remarkably high for a country with a population of only 1.4 million. The surge in use this year has been partly attributed to improvements in the system - this year the application remained fully functional while over 14,000 returns were filed on the last day of the tax year, 31 March. The "e-TaxBoard" system, launched in October 2000, allows taxpayers to file, view and edit their income tax returns on-line, as well as to view their VAT returns and submit VAT refund applications. The application is accessible from the Tax Board's Web site and also from Internet kiosks that have been installed in some banks around the country. Since last year, citizens have been able to use their electronic ID cards to log in to the system. New Zealand launches tax query e-mail service: New Zealand's Inland Revenue department has become the first government agency to implement a secure e-mail service for handling queries from the public. The On-line Correspondence Service is the second initiative in the department's "e-enablement programme" - a series of 52 e-services planned for implementation by 2007.

The department has attracted criticism recently for its inability to handle the volume of calls to its call centres, which last year handled 5.5 million calls. Until now, Inland Revenue has avoided entering into individual correspondence via e-mail, largely due to concerns about privacy. The new secure e-mail service addresses these concerns by issuing users with a log-in ID and password, sent out in the post, enabling taxpayers to electronically ask questions and receive confidential replies from Inland Revenue. In a separate initiative, the department is planning to make individual and business accounts available for viewing on-line by July. Belgium tests electronic ID cards: Belgium has launched the pilot phase of its electronic identity card system. The EUR10 million pilot scheme will see the citizens of 11 municipalities issued with ID cards, and the scheme, if successful, will be rolled out to the rest of the population over a five-year period, at a total cost of EUR100 million. The ID cards, which will cost residents around EUR10 each, will replace the current paper ID cards that are mandatory for all citizens and residents of Belgium. The cards will contain the same data currently featured on the paper ID cards, along with two electronic signatures - one to be used for identifying the holder and the other for the signing of electronic documents. If the rollout is a success, Belgium will be the first European state to issue electronic ID cards to its entire population.

From Electric News Net, by Sylvia Leatham, 17 April 2003

E-government Needs Fixing, Warn Experts

Current efforts 'boring and tedious' and show no understanding of e-delivery - Government groups and technology suppliers are pessimistic about the potential use of online government services unless current strategy undergoes a rethink. At a roundtable meeting to discuss take-up of UK government services, all due to be online by 2005, experts slammed efforts to date. Joined-up thinking was still not in evidence and a one-size-fits-all approach still prevalent, they argued. Martin Cook, government sales manager at BBC Technology, said: "Many websites are boring and tedious, whereas the aim should be engagement." Information, he added, should be tailored to meet the needs of all communities in society and provided on a variety of devices, not just the internet. "We need 'communitisation'. Structure the information to engage the audience, whatever the audience tends to be. For instance, older people want it structured, kids want it jazzy." Paul Duffin, head of the corporate applications unit within the National Probation Directorate, part of the Home Office, suggested that convenience, saving money and being provided with better information were the three most important motivators for using a website. "The problem is not really technical," he said. "The real key is the actual application of [technical solutions]. Sometimes you need to change business processes." Derek Estil, company secretary for the Beach Partnership, set up by Blackburn and Darwen unitary authority, complained that contradictory initiatives did not help. The council had put computers in 2,500 households but a separate, massive house-building programme for East Lancashire failed to include internet connection infrastructure. "Without joined-up thinking it is very hard," he said. There was also little optimism about innovation. David Lynam of Lockheed Martin summed up the mood. "If you don't want to change your organisation you won't have a joined-up structure. New technology plus old business processes equals very expensive new technology," he said.

From VNUNet, UK, by Peter Williams, 15 April 2003

UK E-government Spending Nears Peak

But suppliers must vary approach from local to national government, warns report - Spending on IT to meet e-government targets in the UK will peak between 2004 and 2005, but suppliers have been warned to vary their approaches to local and central governments. A report from analyst firm IDC predicts that the growth rate of government IT-related spending in the UK, France, Germany and Italy will peak in 2004, hitting double figures before settling into a pattern of steady growth. But Massimiliano Claps, analyst at IDC, cautioned that e-government projects must improve service levels if they are to be seen as a success, and internal working practices also need to change alongside modernisation. "The challenge of e-government is changing the organisation's internal culture," Claps said, although he added that this did not mean replacing large numbers of people with technology. Dave Meaden, public sector managing director at IT supplier Northgate, which supplies about 150 local authorities, agreed. "If they just implement IT it will not work, because they have to introduce better working practices as well to improve services," he said. The report also cited the diverse structure and different priorities within UK local and national government as a major challenge for suppliers, who "need to differentiate their approaches". There was no definitive model, IDC said. Meaden said challenges occur when local authorities attempt to deploy central policy, because the environments and aims are different. "You will never get one size fits all because of the different communities they serve," he said. But the UK government has so far been successful in ensuring autonomy, he added. "The central government has not dictated how e-government should be done because it realises local government is always going to be different to central government."

From VNUNet, UK, by Karl Flinders, 14 April 2003

Skills Gap for Local e-Government

Councils attempting to push on with e-government are facing skills gaps, an official report says - Most local authorities know that e-government is important but few officers and elected members actually have the necessary skills and understanding to push forward their aims, according to a Whitehall report. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's survey of English councils to be published in May 2003 finds that while 97% have a senior officer to lead e-government efforts almost three quarters report that their staff "lack sufficient skills and understanding in relation to e-government". Officials fare worse than elected representatives, with 69% of councils identifying skills gaps among officers while 51% say that members have poor e-government skills. Also lacking are the broader business skills often associated with e-government. Over 80% of councils think their officers don't have "change management" and "process reengineering" skills. Councils are attempting to provide training with 94% helping their officers and 79% supporting members, but this is done on an "ad hoc basis" the report says. The report also says there is a "mixed picture" of how effectively councils are implementing e-government. It says that while most (80%) manage and identify risk with e-government projects only 20% have worked out the costs and benefits of their overall programme.

From Kablenet, UK, 22 April 2003

New Survey Reveals State of Local e-Government

Councils in England are beginning to see the benefits and far-reaching implications of e-government, but a lack of sufficient skills and understanding across their organisations is hindering their progress, a new government report has found. Research commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which surveyed every English local authority, claims to have found widespread evidence that e-government is having a positive impact on access to council information and services, increasing the take-up of local services and encouraging flexible working. However it also shows that many are less convinced on whether e-government is helping to reduce the costs and staff time involved in providing information - with most reporting no change at all and one in five noting their costs have actually increased. A key issue for local authorities highlighted by the report is the capacity of council officers and elected members to understand and deliver e-government, with almost three quarters identifying skills gaps, particularly in change management. Over half of councils report their officers lack the ability to evaluate or analyse the costs and benefits of e-government projects, and almost seven out of ten councils said members do not appreciate how e-government contributes to their strategic objectives. Notably, almost one in five local authorities said a lack of leadership and drive from chief executives, members or senior officers was creating difficulties when trying to set up e-government partnerships.

Furthermore, around half have found that incompatible IT systems can cause problems when trying to work with other organisations. Key findings from the survey include: - Only 20 per cent of all councils present multi-lingual information via their e-enabled access channels, although the figure is higher for London Boroughs - 37 per cent of local authorities - representing 101 councils - do not have a corporate eGovernment strategy in addition to their Implementing Electronic Government (IEG) statement; a further 27 per cent are developing one - Virtually all authorities now have senior officer and elected member e-champions - 21 per cent are currently developing a dedicated, comprehensive training programme for e-government - Almost three-quarters have procedures in place to measure improvements in internal efficiencies due to eGovernment - 84 per cent turn to external organisations for advice on procuring IT systems - most often from other local authorities or the private sector; a third seek advice from three or more different organisations - 68 per cent of councils consult other local authorities when drawing up eGovernment strategies or IEG statements - Few local authorities do not provide access to an intranet for any of its officers and members - London Boroughs tend to provide IT facilities to a higher proportion of their officers and members than all other types of authority - 91 per cent work in partnerships with other local authorities in relation to eGovernment; districts tend to form partnerships with their county councils - Most county councils and unitaries now have eGovernment partnerships with private technology suppliers - Local authorities are divided over whether suppliers actually understand their requirements when procuring e-systems and services - Around half are making efforts to involve local businesses in developing their eGovernment programme - 57 per cent state they are developing arrangements to monitor the impact of eGovernment on levels of public involvement; a third report an increase in public participation. "Local authorities recognise the objectives and potential benefits of eGovernment, particularly in terms of service delivery, and understand the challenges that eGovernment presents", the report concludes. "They are however, cautious about making radical and costly changes. "This coupled with current capacity constraints may explain why many local authorities seem to favour a piecemeal approach to the implementation of eGovernment and are making changes in a more ad-hoc and informal way." Findings from the survey will feed into a detailed evaluation of eGovernment processes which is due to be published in the Autumn.

From Europemedia.net, Netherlands, 23 April 2003

Local E-government Skills Gap

An official report due next month will highlight a skills shortage for local authorities trying to move further towards achieving e-government aims, according to KableNet.com. The report, to be published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, follows a survey of English councils. It will state that, although 97% of local authorities have a senior officer in charge of e-government, nearly three-quarters feel staff "lack sufficient skills and understanding in relation to e-government". The report's findings also show that council officers lack the business skills required with e-government, and that officers' skills are perceived as being lower than those of elected representatives. The report also found that, although training was widespread, it was generally on an ad hoc basis.

From Human Resources-Centre, UK, 23 April 2003

Netshift Tackles E-government Gap

Software firm Netshift is targeting local authorities in the UK with the launch of new Community Information Solutions aimed at helping them meet the 2005 deadline to deliver government services and transactional facilities online. The company said the new offerings were designed to speed up local government strategy by providing ready-made applications, which are customised to meet all e-government directives, for deploying government services online. Solutions are available on indoor kiosks, outdoor kiosks and PC terminals.

From NetImperative, UK, 25 April 2003

 

Sheikh Mohammed Urges Dubai e-Government to Encourage Greater Participation of UAE Youth

His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister, urged the Dubai e-government to play a leading role in creating greater opportunities for UAE nationals to be gainfully employed and also to equip the youth with the necessary skills that will help them to become effective contributors in bringing about the transformation of Dubai into a digital economy. He was visiting the Dubai e-Government stand at the Career Fair 2003 on Monday April 21, 2003. His Highness instructed the Dubai e-Government to spread the knowledge of IT throughout the community and to encourage people to make greater use of electronic services in all their governmental transactions. "We are deeply encouraged by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid's visit and will fully implement his instructions to boost the skills and opportunities for UAE nationals in the Information Technology sector as well as open the doors of opportunity for them within the government and private sector enterprises. We are working hard to fulfill the vision of His Highness to transform the nature of government services and accelerate the move towards creating a technologically developed society. Dubai e-Government is taking rapid strides towards electronically integrating all the government services," said Salem Al-Shair, Director Services, Dubai e-Government. "His Highness also instructed the Dubai e-Government to conduct workshops and road shows that will persuade the UAE youth to contribute effectively to make the Dubai e-Government's achieve its objectives of providing e-Services to the residents and business entities," Al-Shair added. Marwan Al Naqi, Acting Manager, Community Outreach & Marketing, Dubai e-Government gave His Highness Sheikh Mohammed a detailed demonstration on the benefits the online recruitment facility that the Dubai e-government is providing UAE nationals through its portal www.dubai.ae.

From AME Info, United Arab Emirates, 22 April 2003

 

U.S. Gets e-Gov Bronze

The United States ranks third among nations in its e-government efforts, trailing Canada and Singapore, according to a new report from Accenture. Steve Rohleder, group chief executive of Accenture's global government practice, discussed the report in a keynote address and news conference today at the FOSE conference in Washington, D.C. Accenture conducted the study earlier this year. The firm divided e-government efforts into five levels, or "plateaus," based on the progress they've made. Only Canada has achieved the highest plateau, referred to as "service transformation," said Vivienne Jupp, Accenture's managing partner of global e-government services. The United States, Singapore and eight other countries are at the fourth level, "mature delivery," she said. Service transformation means that the government has mastered the issues surrounding delivery of services and has turned its focus exclusively to building greater value for citizens into the systems, and encouraging increasing numbers of citizens to take advantage of them.

Most countries have achieved at least basic online service delivery, Rohleder said, and they're focusing now on improving their systems and trying to increase usage. "It's what we saw in the commercial world three to five years ago," he said. "You have to not just put forms online," Jupp said. "Customer relationships are now underpinning e-government." Singapore edged ahead of the United States because of some innovative technologies, Rohleder said. The country mounts inexpensive chips on cars, for example, that can detect when the cars are driving on a road where the government wants to curtail congestion. The drivers get bills in the mail based on the chips' readings. Rohleder said the relatively low levels of funding that Congress appropriated for the e-gov initiatives in 2002 and 2003 are not a serious hurdle for the effort. Creative uses of e-government systems can save money, making up somewhat for low funding levels. However, "There has to be some level of appropriation for any initiative, to get it started," he said.

From FCW.com, by Michael Hardy, 8 April 2003

Lawmaker to Probe Results of Agencies' R&D Spending, e-Gov Efforts

Providing grants for research and development projects has long been a staple of federal government spending. Now one lawmaker wants to take stock of those projects to determine whether the government is getting value for its investments. "I want us to find some better way of getting our arms around the federal research agenda," said Florida Republican Adam Putnam, chairman of the House Government Reform Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee. "The federal government spends a lot on R&D, whether it's [for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], development of biological weapons" or other initiatives, Putnam said in an interview. "I am not sure that any one person ... really has a grasp on this federal research agenda. Where are we getting bang for our buck? ... I'd like us to take a look at that." Putnam wants to review research efforts at federal departments, including projects that are outsourced to private institutions and universities, to determine how well those programs are managed. The Energy Department, for example, attracted scrutiny after reports of lax security and financial abuses at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which is managed by the University of California system. Putnam's district may well boast more orange orchards than high-tech concerns, but his interest in information technology has put him squarely in the path of several controversial issues, such as data mining, that are among the federal government's counter-terrorism and homeland security initiatives.

The subcommittee will hold a hearing in early May to address the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program, which seeks to develop data-mining tools to search both public and private databanks for information that could halt potential terrorists. "I think there are some legitimate issues for us to address, but I think the bulk of the data mining that's going on today, and has been going on in the public and private sectors, is a consolidation of existing databases, existing information, exiting public records," Putnam said. "As we expand our knowledge of what [the Pentagon] was up to ... we have an opportunity, and perhaps an obligation, to begin laying out some markers for what's appropriate." Putnam's subcommittee also plans to evaluate the Bush administration's 24 e-government initiatives, which seek to modernize the way government functions and make it more citizen friendly by employing the Internet and other technologies. In particular, the subcommittee in July plans to address issues surrounding digital archives and the development of standards to store electronic documents, Putnam said. But "one of the recurring themes" that surrounds e-government and R&D is the management of workers," he said. "We have to invest in attracting bright capable, young professionals in IT and information management and systems to the federal government, and persuade them that it's a good place to spend their time."

From GovExec.com, by Maureen Sirhal, 7 April 2003

Feds to Release Latest E-Gov Plan

The Bush administration plans to release its latest strategy for implementing the E-Government Act on April 17, according to Mark Forman, associate director of information technology and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The plan will focus on better use of enterprise licensing for purchasing software and how to more fully leverage share-in-savings contracts where agencies and contractors share the cost of a service and the contractors are paid through savings gained. Forman said his new strategy will also include how his office will deal with the massive budget cuts proposed by Congress. the $397.4 billion omnibus spending bill before Congress includes just $5 million for the E-Gov Act. The proposed appropriation cuts by almost 90 percent the original $45 million slated for the program approved amid much fanfare last November. The E-Gov Act seeks to make government online services and information more helpful to constituents. As administrator of the new agency, Forman will implement e-government initiatives and oversee agencies' compliance with relevant statutes. The bill also creates an E-Government Fund that will invest in inter-agency projects with government-wide application. The new legislation also: Authorizes funding for improvement of the federal Internet portal, Firstgov.gov, so that on-line government information and services are organized "according to citizen needs, not agency jurisdiction."; Requires regulatory agencies to conduct administrative rule-makings on the Internet, and federal courts to post court information and judicial opinions on their Web sites; Allows agencies, scientists, policy makers and the public to have access over the Internet to non-sensitive information about where federal funds for scientific research are spent; Improves recruitment and training for federal information technology professionals; and Establishes "significant new privacy protections" for personally identifiable information maintained by the government.

From InternetNews.com, by Roy Mark, 3 April 2003

E-government Begins With You

Technology consultant Bill Thompson worries that we are losing the e-government plot. If you live in Canada then there's a good chance you've used one of the wide range of government services on offer, whether to pay bills, file tax returns or apply for a gun licence. According to a newly published study of global e-government from consultants Accenture, with the snappy title e-government Leadership: Engaging the Customer, over half of Canadian adults have used one or more e-government services, and Canada is leading the world in the adoption and use of internet technology in government. If you live in the UK, however, then you are much less likely to have turned to a .gov.uk website for help or assistance - only one in 10 of us have ever bothered to use any of the available services. Falling behind - In fact, over the last year the UK has dropped from sixth to eighth place in the international ranking of e-governments, and our progress has slowed down significantly. Smaller countries like Finland are doing far better and introducing new services, especially transactional ones, which let users do something instead of just getting information. It is not only UK central government that has problems. The local government Improvement and Development Agency, IDeA, has just criticised the way local authorities take on projects to deliver services electronically. In Government Computing News, IDeA consultant Fred Baron says there is a danger of getting 'bogged down' in the intricacies of the project instead of focusing on providing a good service to people. While there are some examples of good practice, he says, there is a need to look for projects that will make a real difference to the public.

Cutting cash - The bad news about UK e-government comes soon after the budget for the office of e-envoy Andrew Pinder has been cut by a quarter. Responsibility for many of the big cross-departmental projects has been taken away from him and given back to the departments concerned. Given their poor track record and the evident unwillingness of any part of Whitehall to give up power and influence just to make our lives easier, this is a worrying step backward. Things could get worse if Pinder decides the time has come to return to industry after two years in the firing line. The prime minister may decide that it is not worth replacing him, and distribute his team and their remaining responsibilities around the Cabinet Office's delivery team, making e-government just another aspiration for ministers and their departments. While our e-envoy may not have set the world on fire, or inspired a radical and innovative approach to e-government, he is at least a figurehead with an office, a budget and team of committed people pushing in the right direction. Click here to tell us what you would like Bill Thompson to write about. The problem may have been that he has too little power, and the wrong job title. In Canada the government has its own "chief information officer" and approaches the problems in the same way many successful businesses do. There is a willingness to accept that the internet opens up genuinely radical possibilities for changing the way government interacts with citizens, rather than just giving every department a poorly-designed and badly maintained website.

Testing times - There is also an understanding that this creates dangers as well as opportunities, with a clear privacy policy and an attempt to engage with issues like data sharing between departments instead of just going ahead with it and hoping it all works. A government CIO sounds more dynamic and important than an e-envoy, whose title that smacks of the last days of Empire, diplomacy and visits to strange lands where gunboats can always be called in to quell the natives. I am not normally in favour of treating government as if it is just a special type of company, or in re-labelling citizens as "customers". Too often in the past it has been used as an excuse to remove any form of democratic accountability, cut staff and services and distance us from any real relationship with our elected representatives. But I think there is a strong case to be made for getting someone senior, with a title to match, who can knock heads together about e-government and how it is done properly. Of course, we already have a minister with responsibility for "the Cabinet Office's work in leading and supporting e-Transformation in Government" - it's Douglas Alexander MP and he has totally failed to make any impact at all. He needs to go before he does any more damage. The time has come for the prime minister to put a serious political figure in the role of chief information officer for the government, with a seat at Cabinet and a roving brief to ensure everyone else does what is needed. I would suggest bringing Peter Mandelson in from exile to do it, but I think he would be labelled "chief misinformation officer" and fail to be taken seriously. But whoever it is, we need them - and fast, if our current progress is anything to go by.

From BBC, UK, 11 April 2003

E-Government Resources Expand

Online services may next go portable and personal. Millions of Americans turn to the Web to file taxes, apply for student loans, and find social service benefits. The next likely step for e-government: truly ubiquitous resources, ranging from local to federal information and services, that are portable, available on wireless devices, and perhaps even personalized. The true potential of portable e-government is still in the making, say business and government experts. Progress and Plans - "In five years we'll live in a world in which sensors will be tagging and tracking" transactions, from paying taxes to delivering precise prescriptions to the elderly, says Steve Rohleder, group chief executive at Accenture's government operating group. The consulting company, formerly associated with Arthur Andersen, is among the private-industry entities assisting the government with deployment of its technology initiatives. Accenture helped develop the online filing systems for the Internal Revenue Service and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The company recently surveyed global e-government initiatives and rated U.S. programs the second most efficient behind those of Canada, largely because of that country's work on a standard network backbone with hefty cybersecurity. "E-government is not a static program that can be put in place and left alone," Rohleder says. For example, he'd like to see "one-stop shopping" that bundles city, state, local, and federal services, and makes them available to a variety of devices.

The U.S. focus on Internet services lacks programs for wireless development, an area in which Canada, Finland, and Singapore are making fast progress. The U.S. National Guard is investigating ways to use electronic services to mobilize soldiers faster, pay employees instantly, and arrange medical logistics. "We're obviously not looking at profit," says Maureen Lischke, chief information officer of the National Guard, on the difference between governmental programs and private industry. Rather, the government is aiming to use online systems to improve and save lives. Good Response - The E-Government Act of 2002 created and funded a federal department to expand Web-based public services. The Office of Electronic Government and Technology concentrates on creating and improving the kinds of Web portals that have enabled people to communicate with law enforcement and legislators for several years. Into the FirstGov portal, launched in 2000, the federal government assembled nearly 30 million Web pages. Once people adopt interactive technology, they find coping without it difficult, says Kim Satterthwaite, an Internet architect who designs programs to serve citizens in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Internet made people quickly forget the government phone hot lines and mall kiosks that preceded it, she says. For example, an FBI Web site launched in 2001 invites reports of suspicious behavior. An FBI spokesperson says - contrary to fears that bogus reports of dogs barking would flood the system - the site has generated hundreds of leads in the fight against terrorism. Web sites and e-mail addresses are as common as phone numbers, Satterthwaite says. "If you don't have a URL, where are you?" she asks rhetorically. She expects people will soon adopt the same attitude about access to public services on handheld devices.

Satterthwaite is developing a portable device-enabled directory of Fairfax County government services. In the future, people will swiftly check off chores on their to-do lists and manage tasks such as extending a library book due date through the distributed government services available on wireless PDAs, she says. However, designers face a challenge to create software that works on many different appliances, Satterthwaite says. "We don't want to ... create something for wireless if it can't go on the Web," she says. Getting Personal - As government resources become more widely available in electronic form, they may also become more specific. Accenture's Rohleder says e-government services should consider how to personalize their information. Like online shopping sites, government Web portals should tailor their content to each user, he says. Rohleder also foresees government using marketing techniques such as direct mail and cash prizes to lure citizens into using electronic services. Still, administrations at local and national levels are trying to keep up with the advances made during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Satterthwaite says. They must determine how to present online information in a user-friendly way, she says. For example, how can a city's Web site help residents easily find what they nickname the "pooper-scooper" law? And with greater concerns about security, the government has a mission to provide information and access while also protecting citizens. Department of Homeland Security officials have pointed out the need to balance the release of possibly sensitive information with the free-for-all nature of the Internet. Meeting the challenge is vital during heightened terrorist alerts, they note.

From PC World, by Elsa Wenzel, 10 April 2003

E-government Office Set Up in White House

Washington - Efforts to make Uncle Sam more accessible to citizens online will get a boost today with the creation of an Office of Electronic Government within the White House. The office is being created as part of the E-Government Act of 2002, which became effective today. The act gives greater prominence to efforts already underway within the Bush Administration. Mark Forman, who has served as the Administration's top e-government and information technology official for the past couple of years, will head the new office. The administration set out an e-government strategy in February 2002. Its goal is to cut through the bureaucracy to make it easier for citizens to apply for benefits and obtain information from federal agencies, while at the same time saving the government money by cutting back on paperwork. In the past year, the federal government launched "Regulation.gov", a one-stop shop for citizens to find information on government regulations that affect them or their businesses.

In the past, the information had to be obtained by searching paper copies of the Federal Register or going to individual agency Web sites. A key initiative under the strategy was promoting free online tax filing. A final count for this tax season wasn't yet available, but Forman said the government surpassed its 2.4 million goal last week. The Office of Electronic Government outlines its 2003 strategy in a document to be released today. Besides making the government more accessible online, another key initiative is to better coordinate and oversee the money federal agencies are spending on information technology. "We're not going to be stupid in the way we spend" money on IT, Forman said in an interview. "If we're going to spend more, it's going to be spent smarter and give us better results." One goal for the 2004 fiscal year is to negotiate government-wide software licenses, generating at least $100 million in savings. Another is to reduce redundant IT spending.

From San Jose Mercury News, CA, by Heather Fleming Phillips, 17 April 2003

Downtown Students Put Local Government Online

Brattleboro - For years, people have wondered about the status of the town's Web site. Now, more than two years in the making, a rough draft of the site is online at www.brattleboro.org . "It's been a huge job but now I think we are near the finished product," said Eric Achenbach, a teacher at the Brattleboro Union High School Downtown Campus. For the past three school semesters, Achenbach and dozens of high school students at the Downtown Campus have been working on the Web site. The job has been difficult, Achenbach said, as students and members of the town government have struggled with numerous design layouts and the big question of what to put on it. During Gallery Walk this Friday, people are encouraged to drop by the Downtown Campus at 145 Main Street to view the Web site and offer suggestions about what sort of information and services they would like to see it offer. "It's important to get the community involved in this," Achenbach said. "Basically, (we're asking), 'what would make this Web site useful to you?'" The idea of a town Web site was spearheaded by Sarah Edwards, then a member of the selectboard and now a state representative. Achenbach said Edwards approached him and the students with a head full of ideas about what the site should offer. "The main goal was to make the town government more accessible," he explained.

Currently, the Web site offers contact information for nearly all the department heads of town government, meeting times and dates, contact information for members of the selectboard and a frequently-asked-questions section about town services. As the site develops, Achenbach envisions it offering downloadable copies of town forms and permits, meeting agendas and minutes and town news updates. The town has been looking into getting a Web site up for years, but the costs always seemed too high and weren't figured into the budget, said Town Manager Jerry Remillard. "We really needed a way to get information to people in a better manner," Remillard said. "People should be able to know and understand their local government and this is one more step toward that goal." With the rotating students each semester at the Downtown Campus, it has been difficult to get the site going, said Achenbach. Much of the site work is done by the students, who receive grades for their effort. While the experience offers the opportunity for the students to stretch their creative muscles and develop their talent, Achenbach sees another benefit to the project. "Hopefully this will prove to the community that teenagers can be resources," he said.

"It shows that teenagers are intelligent, motivated and have artistic skills." While designing a Web site might be more exciting than sitting in algebra class, the experience also trains students to hone skills they'll use in their careers, said Mark Anderson, a junior. "It was difficult at first, but I started liking it more and more," he explained. "This has made me consider going into this field." Remillard praised both the students at the Downtown Campus for their work and his executive secretary, Cynthia Green, who coordinated the effort on the town's behalf. "We really like what we've seen so far," Remillard said. The site will never be completely done, Achenbach joked, just as any other site on the Internet is never completed. "The whole Internet should have an 'under construction' sign on it," he said. Achenbach hopes suggestions for the Web site pour in on Friday. He has already heard from a number of people interested in volunteering their services, such as one man who offered to take an aerial photo of the town. "At the end of this semester we should have a really useful site," he said. "At the end of next semester we should have an even more useful site."

From Brattleboro Reformer, VT, by Daniel Barlow, 3 April 2003

Canada Leads the World in Online Government: Accenture

Ottawa - Canada leads the world in applying Internet technology to government services, according to a study by management consultancy Accenture. "Canada was the first country to place its citizens and businesses at the core of its strategy," says Graeme Gordon, an Accenture Canada managing partner. "And Canada continues to move towards the next evolution of e-government - it is no longer a separate initiative but part of a wider service transformation across all agencies and levels of government." The motivation for putting government in Canada online has advanced from mere cost reduction to "improving citizen satisfaction," according to Accenture's fourth annual international study. For the third year in a row, Canada ranked first in "overall e-government maturity" among the 22 countries surveyed. Trailing Canada in electronic delivery of government services were Singapore, the United States, Denmark, Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and France.

From Guelph Mercury, Canada, 14 April 2003

Survey Finds Americans Split on 'E-Government'

A new survey on Americans' growing relationship with "e-government" - government services and information online - reflects their concerns about privacy and security. The report said that 49 percent of its general American population survey believe it is appropriate for the government to search its existing databases for information that could help it track down terrorists. But 42 percent disagreed, believing that "protecting privacy should be a top priority." Also, 52 percent of Americans, according to the survey, believe that government investment in e-government would enhance homeland security by helping agencies, such as the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the police to share information quickly and to better coordinate emergency response. But 36 percent said it would hurt homeland security, partly because Internet technology might be vulnerable to attack. The survey, the third annual on e-government, was conducted in February by Hart/Teeter Research on behalf of the Council for Excellence in Government, which has long supported expansion of e-government, and Accenture, a consulting, management and telecommunications company. The survey was to be released today. Patricia McGinnis, chief executive of the council, said the survey shows "how e-savvy people are becoming." According to the report, 68 percent have Internet access at home, school or work, and seven in 10 go online at least once a day. Further, 50 percent of all Americans and 75 percent of American Internet users have used a government - federal, state or local - Web site to get information or conduct a transaction.

Of those who go online, 66 percent say they have used a credit card over the Internet, and 70 percent have bought a product or service. Although 70 percent gave personal information to a commercial Web site to get a product or service, only 29 percent did so to a government Web site. Americans are generally accessing government Web sites to get information - to find an office address or list of services - but they also expressed interest in using government Web sites for other purposes, such as renewing a driver's license (61 percent) and determining eligibility for government programs (59 percent). Although the survey report was optimistic about the future of e-government, it noted that the "public is not ready for online voting," noting that only three in 10 supported the concept while 54 percent strongly opposed online voting and 13 percent somewhat opposed it. The survey also found opposition to a voluntary national identification card with personal information in digital form, "a controversial extension of e-government." Despite the report's showing of Americans turning to government Web sites, only 8 percent said they were very familiar with e-government, a situation that has not changed since 2001. But the report said this indicates that although people may be familiar with specific online government services, "they do not relate those services to the broader concept of online government."

From Washington Post, by Judy Sarasohn, 13 April 2003

E-gov Is Easier, But Citizens Worry About Security

E-government is making citizens' lives easier. That ease is driving greater use of online government services, but nonetheless, many Americans are seriously concerned about the security and privacy of their online transactions with government, according to poll results released April 14 by the Council for Excellence in Government. "The more we know about citizens and e-government, the more we see a tradeoff between convenience and ease of use and security and privacy," said Pat McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of the council, a Washington nonprofit, nonpartisan group that works to improve government performance. The poll was conducted in February by Hart-Teeter Research, which surveyed 1,023 U.S. adults, including 603 e-gov users; 408 senior government employees; 2,013 Internet users in Spain, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia; and held two focus groups in Tampa, Fla. The poll results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. The study was underwritten by Accenture Ltd. The Hamilton, Bermuda, company provides management consulting and technology services. The study, "The New E-government Equation: Ease, Engagement, Privacy and Protection," showed that three-quarters of American e-government users said online government information has made their lives easier, and two-thirds said e-gov has made it easier to conduct transactions with the government. "It's not going to be used by everybody for everything, but we are crossing over into another era, from listening and observing government to doing business with government over the Internet. If the good news is how well people are using this, the even better news is how they feel about it," said Peter Hart, chief executive officer of Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

The study defines e-government as agencies' use of the Internet and other information technologies, including making information available on Web sites, improving communication between agencies, and allowing people to conduct business online, such as filing taxes or receiving a service. Once people try e-government services, they become converts, the study showed. Of all adults surveyed, the greatest amount - 38 percent - said they preferred in-person contact when doing business with the government. But among e-gov users, 41 percent said they prefer to use the Internet to conduct business with government. "If you've ever tried to call one of the governments, you can be on hold for three days. If you have the Internet, your answer might not be there, but it might. You have another place to go," said one focus group participant. The study "confirms what we see every day," said Stanley Gutkowski, managing partner of Accenture's USA Government unit. "Citizen interest in electronically conducting transactions is growing every day. We are on the cusp of an incredible increase in the use of the Internet for transactions over the next several years." Gutkowski said he wasn't surprised to see the convenience of e-government counterbalanced by concerns about security and privacy. "That has also been the case in the commercial sector," he said. Asked what should be the government's top priority for its Web sites, the greatest number of respondents - 33 percent - said security. More than half of respondents said the government should move slowly in expanding e-government because of security and privacy concerns.

While the study showed that government officials share the public's concerns about privacy and security, the officials ranked security third among their priorities for government Web sites. Just 20 percent of government employees thought security should be the top priority. Making government Web sites easier to use and understand was the officials' top priority. "The survey findings suggest that senior government employees may need to pay greater attention to public concern about online privacy and security issues," the council's survey report said. "If they want to ensure that Americans use e-government's powerful tools, they must do more than post their security policy," on government Web sites. As the government moves transactions online, "security has to come along," said Mark Forman, associate director of information technology and e-government in the Office of Management and Budget. At an April 8 congressional hearing, Forman said agencies have shown substantial improvements in IT security. Sixty-one percent of agencies have security plans in place, compared with 40 percent the year before, and 47 percent of IT systems have been certified and accredited for security, he said. But the General Accounting Office concluded that information security weaknesses at 24 major agencies place federal operations and assets at risk.

Forman said the survey showed that government officials need to do a better job of informing the public about online government services. Twenty-four percent of respondents who were asked what held them back from using online services said they couldn't find the right Web site. "We have to do a better job of getting the word out," Forman said. The study indicates that e-gov expansion may in fact be slowing, but Forman said that's not likely the case. The council's November 2001 study reported that 87 percent of government officials said their agency or division made significant additions or changes to its public Web site within the past year; 74 percent of government officials said the same thing in the 2003 survey. In addition, this year 46 percent said their agency or division is not working on a major project in which the Internet or other information technology plays a central role. This figure is up from 31 percent in November 2001. The data probably is a reflection of governments' greater emphasis on cross-agency e-government projects, not a slowing of e-gov efforts, Forman said. "The killer app used to be the agency Web site. Now they are seeing funding divert to cross-agency solutions," which takes attention away from individual agency projects, he said.

From Washington Technology, by Gail Repsher Emery, 15 April 2003

Interior e-gov Tack Irks GIS Vendors

GIS Consortium, vendor work on parallel tasks - Under pressure to get the Geospatial One-Stop portal up and running, the Interior Department has created a stir by pitting one of the leading geographic information system (GIS) vendors against the work of an industry consortium. The Web-based portal, one of 24 governmentwide initiatives led by the Office of Management and Budget, will house geospatial information and services supplied by federal, state and local agencies. Instead of having to search multiple sites and deal with data stored in different formats, users will turn to Geospatial One-Stop for all their GIS needs. In December 2002, Interior partnered with Open GIS Consortium (OGC) Inc., an international group of 254 companies, government agencies and universities, giving it $450,000 to develop a prototype and underlying architecture. The consortium's main thrust, which made it a natural for the project, is the formation of open specifications that enable interoperability. But after forging an agreement, some Interior officials had second thoughts. Besides being one of the Bush administration's highly touted e-government initiatives, Geospatial One-Stop is eagerly anticipated by the first responder community as a much-needed resource for maps and other geographic data.

Later, at a meeting in February, the Geospatial One-Stop board of directors voted to strike a second agreement with ESRI, an OGC member. The company, which had pitched the department an unsolicited proposal, received $375,000 for a Web portal prototype. Now, in an ironic twist, the portal - whose aim is interconnectivity - has divided the GIS community. "There's quite a lot of confusion about the process of Geospatial One-Stop, and the OMB could help by adding public clarity to the situation," said Tim Milovich, chief executive officer of Questerra LLC, an OGC member. Consortium members believed their prototype would serve as the basis for a future procurement, not as a procurement itself. "The lack of clarity in the situation as developed creates a perception that OGC and its member team are competing with another member," said Jeff Burnett, the consortium's vice president of operations and finance. "That's simply not in the interest of any members. If this had been set up as a competition for the prototype, then OGC would not have bid. "Its members would have been the entities to bid," he continued. "Basically, we're not the vendor." For its part, Interior maintains that heightened expectations and increased urgency forced it to take a second look.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency "and folks in homeland security and the emergency response community are very interested in getting access to geospatial information as soon as possible," said Scott Cameron, Interior's deputy assistant secretary for performance and management. "We need to get something out there in the near term that the community can use." As a result, Interior moved from seeking a working prototype to a production prototype, and that prompted it to consider a commercial-off-the-shelf solution. The demands on the department reflect Geospatial One-Stop's importance to first responders. Firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians rely on geospatial information to mitigate and respond to disasters, including natural catastrophes and terrorism. Right now, much of the data is difficult to access. "Homeland security is very concerned about first responders," said Carol Kelly, vice president of strategy for META Group Inc. "This is serious stuff. We're trying to get the gaps closed as quickly as we can." OGC saw the prototype as the opposite of a competition, as a chance to cooperate across companies. "There is a willingness among the vendor community to make this work as a team," said George Moon, chief technology officer at MapInfo Corp., an OGC member. But business is business and ESRI spotted an opportunity, observers say. "ESRI has an excellent reputation and a lot of people consider them the top in their field," said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

The company is behind the Bureau of Land Management's GeoCommunicator portal, experience that factored into Interior's decision to give it a go, according to Cameron. "We've done lots of work doing similar kinds of things," said Pete Bottenberg, a senior consultant at ESRI, which is working on the prototype. Also potentially acting in the com-pany's favor is its selection by Interior last December as its GIS standard. To some OGC members, ESRI appears to have stepped outside the circle of collaboration, ruffling feathers along the way. "It should be beyond any single corporate ego," Moon said. Others blame OMB and Interior for failing to make their intentions clear. "The consortium at the top was an anomaly. A little competition is a good thing," Allen said. It would have been better, however, to take a dual approach from the start, he said. "I can certainly understand that the timing would raise some questions." OMB officials could not be reached for comment. Timing is the issue for Interior officials as well. They want to have a fully functioning portal available by the end of May and worry that OGC might not be ready. "The OGC process is going to involve a wider variety of players," Cameron said. "The more people that are involved in the development of a project, the greater the likelihood it may take you longer to get there." Not so, according to the consortium. "OGC is confident that its member team will deliver its prototype and reference architecture on time," Burnett said, adding that "because the portal is being implemented at the national level by the federal government, OGC believes it should represent the diversity of technology, services and data that exist and are being developed around the country." Both OGC and ESRI are planning prototypes that use open standards, officials said.

From FCW.com, by Megan Lisagor, 13 April 2003

E-gov Graduate Leads the Way

The National Defense University graduated the first student from its new eGovernment Leadership Certificate Program. Judith Oxman, chief of network services and operations contracting at the Defense Information Systems Agency, finished the eight required courses and received her certification April 11. "The reason I did it is because technology is changing so fast," Oxman said. "One of the big initiatives in government is e-gov [and] getting information to citizens more quickly and accurately." Oxman said the program presented how technology can be used and data can be protected "in ways we haven't thought of before." The program also "provides you with a network of other people in government and industry that you can collaborate with. We don't want to reinvent the wheel." The university's Information Resources Management College began offering the masters-level program in September 2002 after announcing its creation in July. It now has more than 100 enrolled students - about 75 percent of whom come from the Defense Department, said Linda Massaro, a senior fellow at the university's IRM College.

Other students come from civilian agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Accounting Office, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. "We're really pleased the program has been so popular," Massaro said. To receive the certification, students must complete, within four years, eight courses selected from 14 available courses. The school developed three new courses for this program: Transforming to eGovernment; Services Planning for Improved Government Performance; and Security, Privacy and Access Issues in eGovernment. In general, the program is designed to help senior executives manage programs that cut across organizational lines as they work to implement e-government in their agencies. The college soon plans to announce partnerships with other universities that would allow a student who completes the eGovernment Leadership Certificate Program to apply those credits toward a graduate degree at another school, Massaro said. The certificate program is free to DOD employees. Tuition for other employees is $900 per course. Military personnel must hold the rank of 0-5 or higher and civilians must be grade GS-15 or higher. Students can take a single class, however, "we encourage them to consider the program," Massaro said.

From FCW.com, by Colleen O'Hara, 15 April 2003

Americans Embracing E-Gov Despite Privacy Concerns

While Americans are increasingly embracing online government services, they are also concerned dealing with government over the Internet may compromise their privacy, according to a new study released by the Council for Excellence in Government and Accenture. The study, The New e-Government Equation: Ease, Engagement, Privacy and Protection, was conducted by Hart-Teeter Research and found that more than 60 percent of Americans who use the Internet are interested in using e-government for conducting activities such as filing a change of address, responding to a jury summons, renewing a driver's license, or obtaining a birth certificate or marriage license. Nearly 45 percent of Americans agree that if they submit personal information about themselves to government Web sites, government will be able provide them with better services. However, nearly the same percentage believes that if they submit personal information to government Web sites, it may risk the security and privacy of their personal information. "The results of this poll bring a complex challenge into clear focus. Americans want easy, efficient and effective e-government.

Just as important, they want their privacy protected," said Patricia McGinnis, president and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. "Striking that balance is the next important evolution in the e-government revolution and will require the efforts of both government and the technology community to apply the appropriate safeguards and build trust in using government Web sites." The study also makes the case that Americans believe that e-government is a critical tool to fight terrorism and strengthen homeland security. More than half of all Americans and half of all e-government users believe that investing in e-government will help homeland security by allowing government at all levels to share information, coordinate responses to emergencies quickly, and engage and inform citizens. Half of all Americans also believe it is appropriate for the government to search its existing databases for information that could help them track down and catch terrorists. The study included surveys of 1,023 adults nationwide, including an over sample of 202 government Web site users, and 400 government decision makers (200 at the federal level, 100 in state government, and 100 in local government). A best practice area survey of 254 randomly selected Internet users in nine cities was conducted, as well as a survey of 2,000 Internet users in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The public opinion survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent and was conducted in February. The study was the third in a series of annual e-government polls conducted on behalf of the Council for Excellence in Government, a non-partisan, non-profit organization of leaders in the private and non-profit sectors. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of e-government users -- defined as those American Internet users who have accessed a government Web site -- say that conducting transactions with government is easier because of e-government. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of the same group believe that the benefits of e-government will only grow and have a positive effect on the way government operates over the next 5-10 years. "The results of this survey are testimonial that the President's E-gov initiatives are truly transforming government, making access to and transactions with the government easier for citizens," said Mark Forman, associate director of Technology and E-government at the Office of Management and Budget. "The findings will be useful for refining the work we are doing to increase the government's capability to interact with the citizens on their terms and better fulfill their needs."

From InternetNews.com, by Roy Mark, 15 April 2003

E-Government Plan Short on Cash

An "e-government" program to make the federal government more citizen-friendly is $40 million short of its intended budget, potentially hurting White House efforts to bolster public access to important information and services, experts said. The Bush administration's E-Government Strategy, unveiled today, is aimed at helping federal agencies communicate better so they can make government regulations, services and other kinds of information more available to the public. The White House requested $45 million to put the program in action this year, but Congress cut that amount to $5 million. President Bush has asked Congress to spend $345 million for the program over four years. Mark Forman, head of the e-government office at the White House Office of Management and Budget, today acknowledged that the shortfall is an obstacle, but said that the government still must carry out the plan. "Does it mean we can't do these initiatives? We have to. Our workaround is basically to tighten up on the financing strategy," he said. Elena Larsen of the Pew Internet and American Life Project said the e-government office's budget is too little money to make a big difference at first. "Five million dollars is a drop in the bucket in many federal budgets.

It doesn't cover any staff members, it doesn't cover a whole lot of technology needs, and I would imagine that their progress toward their goal of seamless [government] would be greatly slowed by having their budget cut to 1/9th of what they had originally asked for," she said. House Government Reform Committee spokesman David Marin was more blunt. "Five million [dollars] doesn't get the job done," he said. Forman said today that the White House wants to restore the amount it originally requested for e-government spending this year. Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that cutting e-government funding will cost the government more money in the long run. "It's always easier to cut a new program than an existing program," Schwartz said. "These are projects that would save money in other areas." The Bush administration's e-government plan includes dozens of other goals besides increased information sharing, such as modernizing government technology and insuring that computer networks are safe from online attacks. The government already has built several online resources to improve public accessibility, including Web sites like egov.gov, regulations.gov, volunteer.gov, the IRS Free File system and businesslaw.gov.

A General Accounting Office report released last November said that federal agencies need to do more to help the fulfill the e-government mission of focusing on citizens. Only 8 percent of the American population is familiar with the term "e-government," according to a study released this week by the Council for Excellence in Government. Half of the American population has used a federal, state or local government Web site to get information or conduct transactions, the study showed. About 52 percent of Americans are concerned about how the government will use their personal data, the study also found, noting that only 29 percent of Americans polled gave their personal data to a government Web site, compared to 70 percent who gave such data to a commercial Web site. The report also found that 61 percent of Americans are interested in using the Internet to renew their drivers' licenses, but that 54 percent oppose online voting.

From Washington Post, by Robert MacMillan, 17 April 2003

E-Gov Strategy Sets Goals

The administration is raising the bar for agencies trying to get top rankings on the President's Management Agenda's electronic-government scorecard. The administration's "E-Government Strategy," released April 17, outlines six criteria for receiving a green score - ranging from having business cases for all major information technology investments to participating in at least three governmentwide e-government initiatives. So far, only the National Science Foundation has achieved a green score for its e-government efforts, while 17 agencies received green scores for progress they had made in the last three months of 2002. E-government is one of five areas agencies are rated on under the administration's management scorecard. The standards agencies have to meet to gain the top score are better defined than in the past, said Mark Forman, administrator of e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget. "There is more specificity and more measures for information security," Forman said. In fact, information security could be the highest hurdle for agencies.

An agency must be able to document that 90 percent of its major information systems are secure. In 2002 only 47 percent of agency systems had such documentation. An information security officer at the State Department said that while most of that agency's information security systems have adequate security, only 3 percent had the documentation to meet scorecard's goal. "The problem is that we are busy operating the systems and no one has given us the permission or the money to stop operating the systems so we can document them," he said. To get a green score for e-gov, agencies also must focus IT investment on important agency missions, back up major IT investments with business cases, have an information security plan that is verified by the inspector general, participate in cross-agency e-government programs, and meet specific standards for delivering IT projects on schedule and within budget.

From Federal Times, by Karen Robb, 18 April 2003

Maryland Adds E-gov Features to Its Medicaid System

Maryland's Health and Mental Hygiene Department went live last week with its eMedicaid system to streamline the Medicaid process and reduce the paperwork burden on its 56,000 health care providers. USinternetworking Inc. of Annapolis, Md., is rolling out the eMedicaid system, which will be used by hospitals, doctors, dentists, pharmacists-"anybody who bills the Medicaid program," said Alan Shugart, director for systems and operations for the department's Office of Operations and Eligibility-Medical Care Programs. USi's one-year contract is worth $612,000 for the first year with an option for renewal for another year. Providers can enroll via a Web site secured with Secure Sockets Layer encryption and passwords. The system's privacy safeguards will also help the state comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Shugart said. Privacy of patient health data "was one of the big concerns about putting it on the Web," he said. The site uses middleware and USi's AppHost service to access the state's legacy DB2 database, which resides on a mainframe. Participants will be able to find out if their Medicaid claim will be paid or denied when it is processed, without having to wait for a paper notice in the mail, Shugart said. The focus of eMedicaid is better customer service, Shugart said. It will give health care providers around-the-clock accessibility, he said. And because users won't have to spend so much time tracking documents, they can spend more time working on larger problems, such as why claims are denied. The eMedicaid system is not about billing or claims submissions, Shugart said. It's a communication tool. It's also part Maryland's larger plan to ensure that 80 percent of all state government services are online by 2004. The state processes more than 36 million Medicaid claims each year, Shugart said.

From GCN.com, by Trudy Walsh, 22 April 2003

Entrust Selected to Provide E-Government Security for Labor Department

Washington, DC - Entrust solution enables the Department to comply with Government Paperwork Elimination Act and meet strict directives of its E-Government Strategic Plan - Entrust, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENTU), a leader in securing digital identities and information, today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has selected the company's digital identity and information security solutions to help fulfill many of the Department's electronic service delivery objectives. The Department's objectives include initiatives that drive cost savings and increased efficiencies that are also mandated by the 1998 Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) and more recently established under the Department's E-Government Strategic Plan. In particular, the Department required a security solution that can be certified with the U.S. Federal Bridge Certification Authority (FBCA) and meets General Accounting Office (GAO) requirements for financial disbursements. The Department was also motivated by the GPEA requirement for Federal agencies to enable the use and acceptance of electronic documents, signatures and record keeping by fiscal year-end, September 30, 2003.

To meet these requirements, Department officials will use digital signatures from Entrust that can be easily deployed and administered by government personnel. "The U.S. Department of Labor is making enormous strides in transforming the agency into a true 'digital department' as outlined in their E-Government Strategic Plan," said Bill Conner, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Entrust. "In the process, they have set an aggressive timetable aimed at garnering the enormous productivity gains and cost reductions that can be realized through the use of digital signatures and information security." Entrust is a leading security solution provider for more than 320 global government customers, including the U.S. Federal Government which has deployed cyber security solutions in more than 50 Federal departments and agencies, including Department of Energy, United States Drug Administration (USDA), Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC), NASA, U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) and more. Additionally, Entrust solutions power the Federal Bridge Certification Authority, which enables Federal agencies to securely communicate and share information. In fact, Entrust serves as the security technology provider to three out of the four agencies that are currently up and running and connected via the Federal Bridge (Treasury, USDA and NASA).

About Digital Signatures Digital signatures provide unique capabilities for securing digital information; for example, they enable the recipient to verify the authenticity of the information's originator. In addition, a verified digital signature assures the recipient that the information has not been tampered with since it was originally signed. These two benefits of digital signatures are essential for enabling secure online transactions and information distribution. About Entrust - Entrust, Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTU) is a world leader in securing digital identities and information, enabling businesses and governments to transform the way they conduct online transactions and manage relationships with customers, partners and employees. Entrust's solutions promote a proactive approach to security that provides accountability and privacy to online transactions and information. Over 1,200 enterprises and government agencies in more than 50 countries use Entrust's portfolio of security software solutions that integrate into the broad range of applications organizations use today to leverage the Internet and enterprise networks. For more information, please visit http://www.entrust.com. Entrust is a registered trademark of Entrust, Inc. in the United States and certain other countries. In Canada, Entrust is a registered trademark of Entrust Limited. All Entrust product names are trademarks of Entrust, Inc. or Entrust Limited. All other company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

From PRNewswire, 24 April 2003

Expanding E-Government

The Internet has allowed many Americans faster access to government, whether it's to find a ZIP code, renew a driver's license, file a tax return, respond to a jury summons, or even check the endangered-species list. More than two-thirds of Americans now have Internet access at home, work, or school. A remarkable 75 percent have visited a government website, and a similar number say such sites make it easier to stay informed about government services, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Council for Excellence in Government. But the survey also reveals some ambivalence about privacy and more Internet access to government services. Forty-two percent said that submitting personal information to government sites may risk the security and privacy of that information. Twenty-two percent said they're not confident about the protection of their privacy online; 20 percent don't think the Internet is secure. Thirty-three percent said the government's top priority for its websites should be to make them more secure for conducting business. Last year, Congress authorized $345 million for expanding e-government at the federal level over the next four years. Yet congressional appropriators so far have funded only $5 million of that amount for fiscal year 2003. It's up to the White House, Congress, and governmental agencies to shepherd the fledgling e-government idea along. As they do, they'll need to work to build both privacy safeguards and trust. Meanwhile, end-users themselves have a responsibility to become more educated and informed about security on the Web.

From Christian Science Monitor, 23 April 2003

Separating E-Government Hype from Reality

E-government initiatives worldwide have been examined and re-examined by a host of research firms. Noah Elkin reviews the latest reports on the subject, explaining that even though near-future expectations may fall short, governments concentrating on the proper areas can successfully implement efficiencies down the road. According to a December 2002 report from Gartner, electronic government has fallen into what the research firm terms the "trough of disillusion," following nearly a decade of hype about its promise and potential. Gartner's near-term outlook is distinctly negative, predicting that through the end of 2004, more than one-half of all e-government initiatives worldwide will fail to deliver the level of service demanded by both citizens and businesses, the inference here being that applying private-sector benchmarks and operational measures to public-sector projects vastly reduces the projects' chance for success. Likewise, Gartner believes that government e-procurement measures will have a middling success rate, with over 50% of European Union initiatives, for example, failing to achieve cost-savings targets by 2006.

From eMarketer, NY, by Noah Elkin, 23 April 2003

 

Global E-government

US trials wearable computers for emergency response: The US Justice Department is piloting a set of crisis response tools in Charleston, South Carolina. The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-Southeast has selected Xybernaut Corp to integrate its wearable computing technologies with products from Tactical Survey Group Inc, a specialist in critical response technology. The equipment will allow police, firefighters and other public safety workers who are called up to deal with emergencies to formulate tactical plans while on their way to the scene of a crisis, improving operational efficiency. Xybernaut's Mobile Assistant wearable computers also promise to make essential data continuously available to emergency workers. The critical response tools will be evaluated during training exercises and real critical incidents throughout the rest of 2003. The results of the pilot project will be shared nationally through the National Institute of Justice's Office of Science and Technology. US tests e-filing system for courts: Two counties in Texas are trialing an electronic filing system for state and local courts. The Web-based "eFiling for Courts" service, developed by Microsoft and BearingPoint, enables attorneys to file on-line any type of case document, whether criminal or civil, simple or complex. Attorneys who register with the on-line service must pay a fee for filing documents. Users can then log in at any time to track the status of their documents and to see whether they have been accepted by the court. Microsoft and BearingPoint are offering the facility as a managed service, which they say allows the courts to avoid making large capital investments in the system.

The two firms signed an agreement to develop the system with the TexasOnline Authority, the state portal's governing body, in January 2002. Fort Bend and Bexar counties launched pilots for the scheme last November, and there are plans to expand the trials to another four counties this summer, before taking the service nationwide. Dubai promotes on-line recruitment facility: The government of Dubai is taking advantage of the "Careers UAE 2003" employment fair to highlight the recruitment services offered by the state's e-government portal. The four-day careers conference, which claims to be Dubai's largest dedicated jobs fair, brings together public and private sector firms in the drive to recruit young, educated UAE nationals. The Dubai e-Government stand will provide information on career opportunities in government-owned companies and within government departments. The portal site www.dubai.ae has a job search facility designed to allow candidates to browse all available vacancies across government departments. The site also offers guides to employment regulations, crafting a CV and cover letter and attending an interview. Career opportunities with the Dubai e-Government initiative itself will also be highlighted at the jobs fair. Scottish police use biometrics to ID suspects: Police in Scotland are implementing a biometric facial recognition system in an effort to speed up the process of identifying suspects. IT services provider Steria has been chosen to integrate biometric firm Imagis' ID-2000 face recognition technology for the Grampian Police Force. The system will be used to cross-check the police service's existing database of images in order to confirm the identity of suspects. ID-2000, a software program that identifies an individual using 692 facial descriptors, can search 15 million records for a match within one minute.

The system works with all races and genders and takes account of changes in hairstyle and facial hair. ID-2000 uses a combination of spectral analysis and 3-D modeling to locate and fit a face. Spain steers entrepreneurs on-line: Spain's Minister for Public Administrations, Javier Arenas, recently declared that Spain would like to be ranked among the top European nations with regard to e-government. One of Spain's most successful e-government initiatives so far is its "Virtual Entrepreneurial One-stop Shop." Established in October 2002, the site, www.vue.es, has provided information to over 60,000 visitors seeking details on how to start up a business. The site is divided into three sections guiding entrepreneurs through the entire start-up process, and personalised advice is available from a "virtual counsel," along with the facility to construct a customised "roadmap" for starting up a business. Nearly 3,000 users have registered with the system, and over 4,000 personal consultations and roadmaps have been requested. European Commission voices concern over e-customs: The European Commission has expressed fears that some countries may not meet the imminent deadline for the implementation of the new Europe-wide e-customs system. All EU member states have committed to implement the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) by 30 June. In addition, the EU candidate countries and Switzerland, Iceland and Norway are required to implement the system, which aims to make customs administration more efficient and improve security against fraud. In a recent report, the European Commission said that it had "specific concerns" regarding the implementation of the NCTS in Austria, Greece and Luxembourg. The report also noted that Ireland, Belgium, Finland, France and Portugal have "tight schedules in order to meet the deadline."

From Electric News Net, by Sylvia Leatham, 23 April 2003

 
 

GAMAP Realises Financial Transparency for Local Government

Johannesburg - Comparex Africa is assisting the SA government and local authorities in their drive to boost financial accountability and transparency across the country by enhancing its financial software solution in line with the new General Accepted Municipal Accounting Practices (GAMAP). GAMAP is based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) -a global best practice accounting standard. The changes are being driven generally by the budgeting reforms set out by the government's Financial Management Bill and specifically by principle 113 of those reforms that deals with municipal asset management. Local authorities are partnering with Comparex Africa to change their asset management from a fund to a cash-based asset register, ensuring that procurement of assets only occurs when there is cash available. According to Principal Consultant for Comparex Africa's Local and Regional Authorities Division, Andries Fourie, all municipal council sites will be switching over to GAMAP as part of a financial accountability drive to ensure all budgets are cash-based. "Driven by the new Act, there are big changes to financial systems now compared to the past. All transactions must show that there is money available before purchases or payments are made and budget reforms will ensure that debits and credits must always balance."

Fourie said the new financial software has already undergone a lengthy two-year pilot phase at Emfuleni local municipality to ensure its robustness and efficiency and is ready to be rolled out to four other municipalities on 1 July 2003 including Mbombela local municipality, Ehlanzeni district municipality (Nelspruit), Metsimaholo local municipality (Sasolburg) and Klerksdorp local municipality. He emphasised that Comparex Africa's Venus Financial Solution has been used by South African local and regional authority institutions since 1989, highlighting Comparex's lengthy experience with government ICT solutions and key skill-sets. Fourie, a former assistant town treasurer with extensive local government experience, stressed the importance of financial solution experience to ensure a smooth transition to GAMAP. "All Comparex Africa's support team who are working with the municipalities in implementing the new financial solution, used to work for local government and have a close understanding of both existing processes and the new enhanced financial solution based on GAMAP. In addition, our financial software is a totally home-grown product, fully developed in SA according to local conditions. Over the past year the solution has been further enhanced to embrace technology such as using the World Wide Web and running from a browser environment. With the integration of workflow the solution is now process-driven rather than function-driven.

Superior integration with other products such as GIS solutions will position the product as the first locally available local government ERP solution." Comparex Africa is the leading integrator of ICT-based business solutions that make its clients more successful. Based on a strong customer-centric approach, Comparex Africa delivers technology-business solutions from the full range of competencies within its group that align its clients' strategic and operational business needs. Comparex Africa's client-centric structure stems from its Systems Integration Model, a methodology that allows for flexibility and close client relationships. Offering business solutions that address all areas of its clients business, Comparex Africa services organisations within the corporate and large enterprise, government and parastatal markets as well as within the medium enterprise sector in all vertical markets. As an organisation with its roots firmly embedded in Africa, Comparex Africa reflects a cultural diversity, relying on the unique contribution of each of its skilled employees to succeed. Transformation is an overriding business imperative for Comparex Africa and as such it has dedicated resources from across the organisation to drive employment equity, economic empowerment and social investment programmes.

From ITWeb, South Africa, 17 April 2003

Bad Government Policies Cripple OPS - OCCIMA

The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OCCIMA) has decried the challenges and obstacles that are being faced by the organised private sector (OPS) from injurious government legislations and policies. The president of OCCIMA, Rob Eze who made this remark during the inauguration of a 35-member Trade Fair Committee for this year's Onitsha Made-in-Nigeria trade fair, at the chambers secretariat, Onitsha, said some of these policies which include tax regulation, high taxes, multiple levies, restricted access to credit facilities, corruption among government officials and lack of strong will to improve and provide the necessary infrastructural facilities, militate against OPS development in the country. Eze added that instead of the governments providing lifeline and the needed capacity-building support to the OPS for a better role in the economy, "they stifle the sector through negative policies and programmes that keep the economy paralysed."

He said the choice of the theme of the 12th Made-In-Nigeria Trade Fair, Encouraging effective organised private sector participation in sustainable National Economic Recovery through favourable economic policy, was informed by the urgent need to adequately empower the OPS to play leading roles as the engine of growth and industrial development in the nation through favourable legislation and dynamic economic policies. Calling on the government to repeal all the existing anti-OPS legislations and replace them with favourable ones, Eze stated that OPS needed to be taken into confidence when packaging economic blueprint for either state or the federation. Eze also disclosed that the fundamental vision of this year's fair was to expose the vast human, material, industrial and agricultural potentials of Anambra State and indeed the entire nation to foreign investors as well as encourage maximum exploitation by the OPS. He however maintained that the chamber being aware of the challenges it faces to make the fair succeed, had nominated its first Deputy President, Okey Akaneme to head the 35-member organising committee.

From Daily Times of Nigeria, by Peter Eziolisa, 17 April 2003

 

Regional Disparities Bypass Public Sector Pay

Prefectural jobs pay nearly the same nationwide. It's a different story in the private sector. Prefectural officials, whose wages are nearly uniform nationwide, remain untouched by the wide regional discrepancies in wages faced by their private sector counterparts, the Finance Ministry says. The prefectural governments all gave their officials a pay cut in fiscal 2002, in step with a central government salary cut. But the ministry said in its latest survey they still may be paid too much, compared with the plummeting wages in the private sector. The ministry's survey was based on salaries of prefectural officials before the fiscal 2002 pay cut. The salary level of each prefecture was calculated in relation to an index of 100, representing the level of central government officials' salaries. The ministry then used fiscal 2002 statistics gathered by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to calculate private sector salaries by prefecture against an index of 100, which represented the national private sector average. The salary levels at many of the prefectural governments exceeded 100, reflecting the fact their officials are older on average than those in the central government.

But margin by which they differed is slimmer than the one in the private sector. All the prefectures' indexes were within a 25-point band, from 97 for Tottori Prefecture to 122 for Kanagawa Prefecture. The prefectures were spread over a 43-point range in the private sector, from 74 in Okinawa Prefecture to 117 in Tokyo. The prefectures' own annual surveys, however, tell a somewhat different story. Most of the prefectures estimated small discrepancies between the salaries of their officials and those of private sector employees in their respective jurisdictions. The former were usually about 2 percent better paid than the latter. The prefectures' personnel commissions use this data to arrive at recommendations for changes to officials' salary. The prefectural statistics, however, are often criticized for comparing public salaries with only those of white-collar workers at relatively large companies and organizations. Critics also say the surveys fail to make clear comparisons by educational background, type of job, salary range and other indicators.

Even central government ministries have taken issue with the prefectures' methodology. An official at the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said some of the indicators "may not have been calculated properly." At the Finance Ministry, an official said, "Local government officials are still enjoying high wages at a time when private firms are in a tougher situation." Amid the dire financial straits of the prefectural governments, calls are expected to mount for a review of local officials' salaries. An official at Jichiro (The All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Union), which represents local government employees, said: "There should be a nationwide salary standard for local government officials because they are doing similar jobs. Even when the salary level of the private sector is to be considered, the yardstick for comparison should be limited to similar, white-collar jobs, not all types of job."

From Asahi Shimbun, Japan, 10 April 2003

Index Plan May Offer Aid in Tracking Transparency

On the orders of President Roh Moo-hyun, the Fair Trade Commission plans to design indexes that gauge management transparency and business fairness, and to present these target indexes to companies. The antitrust agency reported the pending problems and the related plans to the Blue House yesterday. In a meeting about the report, Mr. Roh ordered the agency to develop the indexes. Mr. Roh also directed the agency to make its own operations transparent, saying, The Fair Trade Commission should let the progress of the investigation into the cross-affiliate transactions by the largest business groups this year be predictable. Meanwhile, the Fair Trade Commission reported to Mr. Roh that it will intensify a watch on the governance of privatized state-run companies and jaebeol financial units. The agency also said it planned to lead the business groups, in which the governance structures were complicated, to convert to the simple structure of a holding company and its subsidiaries, through providing tax benefits.

The antitrust watchdog will organize a task force to examine whether to put companies with a low debt-to-equity ratio into the target of the restrictions on investment by large conglomerates in its affiliates and other firms. Currently, the regulation excludes companies with a debt- to-equity ratio lower than 100 percent. Kang Chul-kyu, the chairman of the Fair Trade Commission, said last month that the agency would restrict the investment by even those firms but the Ministry of Finance and Economy opposed. The Financial Supervisory Commission also reported the outstanding issues and the related plans to Mr. Roh yesterday. The financial watchdog said it would promote introducing a system that would regularly examine the qualifications of the largest shareholders in financial service companies, in order to prevent the industrial capital from controlling the financial sector. The agency also plans to examine adopting a system that will check the qualifications of the new largest shareholders in financial service companies whenever the largest shareholders are replaced.

From Joongang Ilbo, Korea, by Kim Young-hoon (symoon@joongang.co.kr), 7 April 2003

Public Finance Management Reform Project

The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan has received a grant from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as administrator for grant funds provided by the Government of Japan, in the amount of $500,000 equivalent toward the cost of the IT System Modernization Component of the Public Finance Management Reform Project. The objective of the Government under IT System Modernization Component of the project is to develop a computerized budget, accounting and cash management system by (i) elaborating a blueprint and modernization plan for the activities described above and (ii) specifying the functional and IT architectural design of the future system. All the preparatory work should produce appropriate, state of the art terms of reference, for the IT project implementation. The activities under the preparation of the IT System Modernization Component of the project will be implemented in close cooperation and interdependence with activities to be carried out under Public Finance Institutional Reform Component of the project which will be financed from PPF proceeds. The Government now invites eligible consultants to indicate their interest in providing the services.

Interested consultants must provide information indicating that they are qualified to perform the services (brochures, description of similar assignments, experience in similar conditions, availability of appropriate skills among staff, etc.). Consultants may associate to enhance their qualifications. The consulting firm will be selected in accordance with the procedures set out in the World Bank's Guidelines: Selection and Employment of Consultants by World Bank Borrowers, January 1997 (revised September 1997, January 1999, and April 2002). The consulting firm selected for project preparation will not be eligible to bid for contracts in the implementation phase of this project. Expressions of interest must be delivered to the address below till May 15, 2003. Interested consultants may obtain further information from the same address. Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Attn: Mr. Kuchkarov, Deputy Minister, 5 Mustakillik Sq., Tashkent 700008, Republic of Uzbekistan, Tel: (998-71) 139-4238, Fax: (998-71) 139-4205, E-mail: fsuvankulov@mf.uz.

From Transitions Online, 23 April 2003

Emissions Tax Will Hurt Competitiveness

The Government ratified the Kyoto Protocol in December 2002. Climate change policy is now developing rapidly and alarm bells are ringing. Policy outlined to date applies up to the end of the first commitment period - 2012. No progress has been made in international forums on the US and Australia joining the protocol and how developing countries will take on obligations for the second commitment period. So New Zealand's longer-term obligations are not at all clear. Some of the technologies needed to reduce emissions to a meaningful extent will take 20-plus years to develop. Climate change policy should recognise this and not rely on such a blunt instrument as an emissions tax. The Government will introduce an emissions tax in 2007. Some of our trading partners have climate change policies similar to New Zealand's, but not one of our partners in the Asia, Pacific or Southern Hemisphere region has, or is planning, an explicit emissions tax. New Zealand's economy is energy intensive, second only to Canada in the OECD. Simple logic, supported by economic analysis, confirms that imposing an emissions tax in the absence of a similar impost by our trading partners will harm the economy.

Many NZ firms, particularly those competing internationally, will be unable to pass on the tax. Such firms will tend to shift production overseas; investment will be discouraged, output will fall, closures occur and jobs be lost for no benefit to the environment. The Government has recognised this threat by providing for Negotiated Greenhouse Agreements (NGAs). These will provide relief from some or all of the tax in exchange for a binding commitment to achieve energy efficiency and emissions management targets based on a measure of world best practice. NGAs are not a cheap option - negotiating one will be a major commitment in itself, perhaps beyond the resources of all but the larger companies. Most energy-intensive firms have long-lasting assets. An NGA provides these firms with the certainty to invest, build assets and shift the business to a lower carbon economy over a time frame that reflects the technology options available to the firm. So, if NZ has to have an emissions tax, equally it has to have a means to shelter firms from the loss of inter-national competitiveness. NGAs also encourage firms to invest in energy efficiency and emissions management, an outcome that both Government and industry support.

Unfortunately, the Government has imposed significant hurdles to NGAs. These mean that a large number of medium to smaller firms will find it difficult to gain access to an NGA. It is hoped that some of these firms may be able to form bubbles that can negotiate an NGA as a single entity on behalf of the participants. Also, industry is encouraging the Government to develop second-tier policy mechanisms that may give smaller firms some relief, and encouragement to manage emissions. The Government is under pressure to maintain flexible policies for these firms so agreements are accessible, investment is encouraged and the economy can grow. The Government is also under pressure to ensure that adequate resources are available to negotiate the NGAs industry requires. The simple message here is: more agreements will result in better emissions management and less damage to the economy. (Chris Baker is chairman of the Greenhouse Policy Coalition).

From New Zealand Herald, New Zealand, by Chris Baker, 28 April 2003

 

Yugoslavia: Public Procurement Law for Increasing Public Savings

Belgrade - Serbian Minister of Finance and Economy Bozidar Djelic said Thursday that the Law on public procurements, which came into effect in mid-2002, has contributed to increased state savings in public procurements, curbing corruption, improving conditions for local and foreign suppliers, and bolstering competition. Addressing a symposium entitled "Public Procurement in Serbia - Results and Further Steps," organised by the Serbian Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Public Procurement Office, in cooperation with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Djelic said that that the Law has allowed for substantial savings in public procurements and a 50 percent drop in purchasing prices. In the first nine months of the Law's coming into effect, the state has saved some $70 million, said Djelic, adding that taxpayer money has been used more efficiently. According to Djelic, the Law has also allowed for a more efficient fight against corruption, eliminating all "quasi-mediators". In the past, of the country's total annual public procurements, ranging between 60 million and 80 million dinars, between 15 million and 20 million dinars, or as much as 25 percent had been used irrationally. A Commission for protecting suppliers' rights is to be set up today, said Djelic, adding that it will handle abuses of public procurements by large demanders who are usually direct or indirect budgetary users.

From Serbia Info, Yugoslavia, 24 April 2003

 

Finance Ministry Proposes 2-3-Year Temporary Public Sector Pay Cut

Ministry of Finance director of wages Yuval Rachlevsky: Public sector pay cuts will save the treasury NIS 2 billion a year - The Ministry of Finance proposes to temporarily cut public sector salaries for two years, until 2005, with an option for a one-year extension if the economic decline continues, and there is no economic recovery and renewed growth. The ministry proposes graduated salary cuts from 6.5% for low-paid employees to 21% for high-paid employees. The pay cuts would be in item not used to calculate pensions or current salaries. Senior economic officials in Jerusalem fear that the struggle between Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and Histadrut chairman MK Amir Perez has become too personal, and the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) might therefore torpedo additional economic measures, and not just those relating to salaries and jobs. Ministry of Finance director of wages Yuval Rachlevsky said the measure was neither radical nor permanently hurt salaries. However, he confirmed that never in Israel's history, "let alone during the Histadrut's heyday in the 1980s" had such pay cuts or temporary legislative measures been taken.

Rachlevsky said the public sector pay cuts would save the treasury NIS 2 billion a year, and up to NIS 6 billion in 2004-05. However, other calculations indicate that an average 8% pay cut would save NIS 470 million a month, or NIS 5.6 billion gross a year. There are signs of a compromise over pensions. The Ministry of Finance is prepared to concede its demand for a 2% annual current management fee for Histadrut pension plans. According to the ministerial legislative committee decision, employees would nevertheless have to contribute toward the Histadrut pensions' recovery, paying a rate of 1% in 2003, and 2% a year from 2004. Minister without portfolio Meir Sheetrit, who proposed that the public sector pay cut be for a limited period, announced the economic plan legislation would not be postponed again, and would be sent to the Knesset on Monday. Sheetrit has been acting to avoid exacerbating relations with the Histadrut, in order to continue the negotiations even after the Knesset passes the bill on its first reading.

From Globes Online, Israel, by Zeev Klein, 28 April 2003

 

Bush Tax Policies Panders to Groups Bent on Slashing Government Spending

The public interest group People for the American Way has criticized the Bush administration's tax policy as being written by special interest groups that are bent on reducing the scope of services provided by the federal government. The group suggests in a new report that five major organizations have helped keep the Bush administration's tax policies high on the domestic agenda, despite ever-worsening deficit projections, the huge cost of war in Iraq and its aftermath and warnings about the nation's long-term economic health. "For those who want to drastically restrict the federal government's ability to take action on behalf of individuals and the common good, there is method to the madness of reckless tax cuts that is particularly troubling at a time of war and economic uncertainty," said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. "They see massive deficits as a way to undermine the federal government's ability to deal with national priorities like stronger public schools, a cleaner environment, and better access to health care." The report identifies the groups that are allegedly influencing Bush's tax policy. Americans for Tax Reform is described as an inside-the-beltway operation which excels at building and maintaining political coalitions among politicians, industry groups and other right-wing interest groups.

The Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute are the ideological think tanks, churning out policy papers and providing the bulk of material support and marketing might for policymakers. Citizens for a Sound Economy drives the field operation, channeling corporate money into grassroots campaigns for specific legislative proposals. Finally, Club for Growth is the uncompromising political action committee, enforcing ideological rigor by targeting wavering politicians when they are most vulnerable, including Republicans deemed insufficiently committed to anti-tax dogma. "The debate about tax policy should be broader than just how many billions or trillions of dollars will be given away to America's millionaires," said Neas. "It is important for policy makers and the American people to understand that behind the push for these huge tax cuts is an anti-government movement that is eager to force radical reductions in the social services and legal protections provided by the federal government to the American people. The tax plan is part of a broader strategy that includes packing the federal judiciary with judges who embrace a states' rights approach to the Constitution in order to restrict the federal government's legal authority to protect Americans' rights and address pressing issues. This report sheds some light on the key players in this movement and their strategies."

From Republicons, 29 March 2003

Lawmakers Attempt To Revise Campaign Finance Law

Denver - Bill Allows Politicians To Set Up Special Contribution Accounts - A constitutional amendment reforming campaign finance would be adjusted to allow politicians to set up special contribution accounts under a bill narrowly approved Thursday by the House. Critics said the measure essentially would dismantle Amendment 27 because it would allow political officeholders to skirt spending caps and to pepper voters with unlimited campaign messages. They also said it would allow anonymous attack pamphlets to be used because it would broadly define newspapers as exempt from the amendment. Bill sponsor Rep. Rob Fairbank, R-Littleton, said the bill is intended to implement the amendment, not circumvent it. The House passed House Bill 1132 on a 33-31 vote. It faces a third reading before going to the Senate. Amendment 27, approved by voters in November, banned direct corporate contributions and established limits on contributions from political action committees to candidates and parties. It also requires disclosure of money to fund education committees, and set $200 contribution limits to legislative candidates, $500 contribution limits to statewide candidates including the governor and spending limits of $65,000 for state House candidate and $90,000 spending limits for the state Senate and $2.5 million for governor. Fairbank said the amendment does not define newspapers and can be interpreted to bar Internet users from publishing statements about candidates. He said it also may require computer users who spend more than $1,000 on a newsletter just naming a candidate to file financial disclosures. Rex Wilmouth, state director for the Colorado Public Interest Research Group that sponsored the amendment, said the amendment is working as designed. "I think this is an attempt to derail Amendment 27. If they want to do that, they should challenge it in the courts," Wilmouth said.

From KMGH, CO, 24 April 2003

 
 

Privatization: Rush to Cover-Up Fraud By Government Officials - Nepa Workers

Lagos -National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has alleged that government's rush to privatise the National Power Authority (NEPA) is a ploy to cover-up the fraud and loot perpetrated by top government officials and challenged all the presidential candidates to the forthcoming general election to tell Nigerians what they want to do with NEPA as well as provide stable power supply to Nigerians. NUEE warned that besides protecting the interest of its members, as civil society group interested in the well being of all Nigerians, the union would mobilise all patriotic Nigerians against any pro-Privatisation leader as the programme is anti-people imposed on Nigeria by the Bretton Wood Institutions. A statement by the union's Deputy General Secretary, Comrade O. A. Sobowale lamented that the present Obasanjo led government started well but later derailed under influences from lender nations and their local collaborators. The statement said: "When the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration took the saddle of leadership it moved in this direction but a few months later, it capitulated in the opposite direction-towards privatisation. Why was this so? What happened? There are three fundamental reasons we can offer to explain this. First, the administration pandered to the external pressures of lending agencies that are increasingly pushing for privatisation throughout the Third world. Second, the administration lacked the political will to deal with the monumental corruption that had taken place in NEPA, neither did it have the courage to bring the culprits to book. Enormous unaccounted amounts were stolen from NEPA, and nothing is being said about this either by the President or the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

Thirdly, and not the least, the government has never put in place a Board with unimpeachable integrity, patriotism and dedication to duty, such that will be able to tackle the problems of NEPA. Without fear of thoughtful contradiction, the Technical Board put in place by the present administration became not only part of the problem, but the biggest problem of NEPA. The other problems include, poor maintenance and turn around culture, obsolete equipment, poor tariff collection from clientele which include the Presidency, the Army and the Police, and illegal vandalisation of NEPA equipment. That has been the history of NEPA And we challenge any decent administration to ask the books to be opened, Nigerians will be shocked, because they will discover the truth. The attempt to rush to privatise NEPA is meant to cover-up the fraud and loot of some sacred cows." "The Government, through the BPE, and with orchestrated indignation, has been wasting taxpayers' money on ill-informed blackmail and propaganda in the media directed against NEPA on the so-called issue of non-performance. The key problem of NEPA is what is euphemistically referred to as public sector corruption. Even the Presidency and National Assembly suffer from it., numerous scandals reported in the media daily, will suffice in this regard. The goal should be how to rid the public sector of corruption and not how to privatise all its strategic components. This should be the cardinal objective of the new Board of NEPA and not how to prepare NEPA for privatiation".

According to him, "our immediate reason for this statement is to put all the twenty (20) Presidential candidates on alert and to urge them to publicly state their position on the privatisation of public enterprises and in particular their position on NEPA. Our perusal of the manifestoes of the political parties available to us does not suggest that any of them is willing to pursue privatisation of NEPA, this is not to say that they will not encourage private sector growth. We do however know that, in the Nigerian context, there is party manifesto and there is personal manifesto, many elected politicians do not follow the programmes outlined by their political parties." "We want to know what the personal political manifesto of each Presidential candidate is, beyond what was said during the Presidential debate. This becomes crucial for two reasons. First, as an interest group and a trade union, and above all as part of the electorate, we are interested in what concern our members and what concern or touch the interest of other citizens of Nigeria. This is quite legitimate and consistent with the principles of democracy. Second, beyond our franchise, we are going to embark on full-scale mobilisation for or against any leader who is pro-privatisation, this is because the programme is anti-people. This is not misplaced sentiment or undue patriotism.

Most certainly, the privatisation of NEPA is an anti-poor people policy. Experiences of Third world countries, particularly in the energy sector, in Cote D'Voire, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea have proven this." The union added: "It is for the foregoing reasons that we urge all the Presidential candidates of all the 20 political parties in contention, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), National Conscience Party (NCP), and United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), among many others to make a disclaim to this statement or specifically tell us where they stand or what they intend to do about NEPA genuinely salvage it or criminally auction it.?" "The implication of not responding to this statement, inadvertently knocks out the moral basis of the pursuit of the privatisation of NEPA by any victorious aspirant, post-election. But, should this happen, our Union is well-advised about what to do."

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, 8 April 2003

 

World Bank Project "Privatization of Farms" Completed

Baku - The project "Privatization of Farms", funded by the World Bank in Azerbaijan, completed, according to the Agency on Development of Private Sector in Agriculture, Trend reported today. The project has been implemented since 1997 in the different regions. For this time, 6.645 thousand families received the certificates, affirming their ownership for land sectors, 4.036 thousand farms raised loans for 32.6 billion manat. The Association of Water Consumers, uniting over 6.5 thousand land-owners and serving 11.9 thousand hectare area, was established to resolve the problems with water supplies. For the period of the project, the harvest of grains rose from 13 up to 35 centners per 1 hectare, vegetable-growing - 156 up to 362 centners per 1 hectare.

From Baku Today, Azerbaijan, 11 April 2003

India Pulls Airlines From Privatization

New Delhi - India's Cabinet on Tuesday withdrew two national airlines from the list of 35 companies being offered for sale, saying they would be modernized to face competition. Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain said Air India and Indian Airlines were not attracting satisfactory bids, especially as the international airline industry is slumping. "No major airline or aviation company is at present willing or in a position to invest," Hussain was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India. The decision was made at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Both carriers have listed ambitious growth plans. The Indian Airlines management has recommended the purchase of 43 Airbus aircraft between now and 2008 at a cost of 101 billion rupees ($2.1 billion). Air India has said it will acquire 17 long haul aircraft costing more than 130 billion rupees ($2.7 billion). But some analysts fear that the decision will send the wrong signal to investors, particularly after a delay last year in the planned sale of two major profit-making state oil companies.

From Seattle Post Intelligencer, WA, 15 April 2003

Camacho Aims to Let Employees Compete in Privatization

Gov. Felix Camacho proposed a bill yesterday that would allow government of Guam employees to compete for privatization contracts. The bill, which Camacho sent to the Guam Legislature, seeks to repeal sections of a public law that governs the reorganization of GovGuam. The measure includes revisiting a section that makes it unethical for a GovGuam employee to participate directly with the procurement process. If the reorganization law is repealed, GovGuam employees would be able to compete for privatization contracts, according to a release from the governor's office. "These employees may be the most qualified individuals to provide services under the bidding process," Camacho said in a letter to Speaker Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada. The bill also would repeal sections pertaining to the public hearing requirement on reorganization. The release said current law makes it difficult for the administration to complete reorganization before the start of fiscal 2004, which begins Oct. 1. The law also makes it difficult to "right-size" the government because classified employees can't be removed while the plan is being implemented, the release said. "They are prohibitive of efforts to privatize, outsource and reorganize," Camacho said. The measure also seeks authorization to transfer funds to pay for cuts associated with outsourcing government services.

From Agana Pacific Daily News, GU, by Theresa Merto, 15 April 2003

A Retreat in Privatization Battle

Privatization encourages competition, which in turn ensures that higher-quality goods and services are provided at lower costs. Another benefit is that it also helps spread share ownership widely among the population. Therefore, privatization appealed to the previous Kim Dae-jung administration, which sought to enhance efficiency and reduce waste in corporate management, in both the private and public sector, after the 1997-98 financial crisis. It selected 12 government-controlled businesses for privatization and sold off eight, including telecommunication services. Now four monopoly utilities - rail, electricity, gas and residential heating - wait to be digested. But the government is misguided for backpedaling on privatization since President Roh Moo-hyun's February inauguration. The government retreated dramatically when it decided to withdraw its plan to sell off rail operations to private business concerns earlier this week. During a face-off with the labor union of the Korea National Railroad, it agreed to seek an alternative to privatization and build a social consensus before launching a new cost-cutting program. Putting on a bold face, however, the government maintained that it was an accomplishment to settle a labor dispute through dialogue and compromise, thus forestalling enormous losses that a strike can inflict. Few would debate the government's claim that dispute settlement has prevented the transportation of passengers and goods - when the economy is slumping - from becoming painfully disrupted.

However, the government has paid a high price, severely damaging its own credibility in the eyes of both domestic and foreign investors. In a public statement issued after a cabinet meeting last week, the government said it would be illegal for the union to strike to protest the privatization plan. It threatened to prosecute union leaders and demand compensation for torts if they held a strike illegally. The administration said that it would continue to own, maintain and repair railroad facilities and establish a state enterprise to restructure their operations, instead of privatizing them immediately. This "phased privatization" would prevent sudden job losses that an immediate change in ownership would cause. But before the ink dried on its statement, the government had to abandon this moderate plan when it gave in to the union's demands and agreed to seek an alternative. Now the government has no one else to blame if its determination to privatize other monopoly utilities is questioned. Privatization is suggested to plug the holes in the KNR's management. It has been losing 600 billion won to 700 billion won annually. If nothing is done to improve its leadership, the accumulated loss, it is estimated, could top 50 trillion won in 2020. Alarmed by this depressing prospect, the government managed to extract a major concession from the union last year - an agreement for joint efforts to promote privatization and attain reduced costs. In return for the concession, the government opted for the idea of establishing a state-owned corporation as a vehicle that would smooth the transition to complete private ownership.

It also agreed to a union request that workers dismissed for unlawful labor activities be reinstated. Such a compromise looked inevitable. Nevertheless, the change in policy elicited criticism from a sizable number of management experts, who called for an immediate sell-off. They said there was no reason to delay a plan to restructure the hemorrhaging rail business. Nothing has since changed to justify a decision to cancel privatization. Instead, the government will have the same problem of making up for huge losses with taxpayers' money in the years ahead as it did in the past. And no viable alternative to privatization has been found in making railways cut costs now and earn profits later in competition against buses, trucks and jetliners. It is most unfortunate that the incumbent administration is not as resolute in privatizing state enterprises as its predecessor. This fact raises the suspicion that it regards privatization as more harmful than beneficial because it can concentrate economic power in the hands of a select few and raise utilities charges. Such a suspicion is warranted by remarks made by a leading member of the presidential transition team, who voiced concerns about the prospect of monopoly utilities being controlled by private businesses shortly before Roh took office. A final confirmation will come when the administration submits a bill on the restructuring of the Korea National Railroad by June as it promised.

From Korea Herald, Korea, 23 April 2003

 

Privatization Minister Regrets the B92 Delay

Belgrade - Serbian Economy and Privatization Minister Aleksandar Vlahovic has today expressed regrets over the stalling of B92's public capital privatization, offering an explanation. Speaking at a press conference, Vlahovic explained that 20 days prior to the planned auction, which had already been subject to postponement, a request had been made for the declaring of criminal charges over the earlier merger of private and public companies KVS and B92. The minister maintained that the privatization agency acted in accordance with existing articles of legislation by postponing the auction, officially due to technical reasons, and issuing letters to the prosecutor's office of the republic, district and municipality in an effort to ascertain whether or not the matter was being investigated. Vlahovic has yet to receive a response from the prosecutors' and said: "If there's not [an investigation] the auction will be scheduled and there are no problems. If there is, the agency believes that the solution to this problem should not be predetermined, nor should an eventual dispute be raised over the fact that the agency is selling a minority part of the capital. "If it is established that should problems exist then the question will be whether the agency will be selling the minority capital at all and whether this kind of privatization would be good for this television company". Noting that B92 yesterday expressed hope that the auction would be scheduled in the shortest possible time, Vlahovic insisted: " We don't want any problems arising from this. I personally hope that there aren't any problems here. "The agency is expecting to receive a reply from the prosecution that will clear the way for further unhindered privatization."

From B92, Yugoslavia, 24 April 2003

 

Saudia Privatization to Bring In Huge Revenues

Jeddah - Privatization of Saudi Arabian Airlines will bring huge revenues to the company, according to Prince Fahd ibn Abdullah, assistant minister of defense and aviation for civil aviation affairs. "Studies on the privatization program will be completed shortly to consider partial privatization of the airline," the prince told Okaz Arabic daily. "It will have a positive effect on the airline's sales and improve its performance, and these will have a very good impact," he added. Saudia is the largest airline in the Middle East with a fleet of 117 aircraft. Prince Fahd also disclosed that work on the $1.5 billion expansion of King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah is to start soon. The project will be carried out in several phases without affecting the airport's normal operation. Engineering work on the project has already started, the prince said, but did not mention the project's total cost. The expansion will increase the airport's capacity from 13 million to 21 million passengers a year. He said Saudia's monopoly in the domestic sector would continue until private airline companies are established in the Kingdom. "At present it will be the only airline to provide domestic service. In future, other national airlines could be set up," he said. Asked about the prospect of reducing domestic fares, Prince Fahd said Saudia ticket rates were already over-discounted. "Indian Airlines domestic fares are higher than those of Saudi Arabian Airlines," he said.

Saudia charges SR280 for the one-and-a-half hour flight from Jeddah to Riyadh while Indian Airlines charges SR380 for a flight of the same duration from Bombay to Calicut, already taking into account a special 35 percent discount. He said the presidency would continue its efforts to increase passenger and airline traffic to and from King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. "King Fahd airport is closer to Dammam, Qateef and Jubail than Manama airport," he pointed out. Prince Fahd hoped that operation of more direct flights would help King Fahd airport attract more passengers in future. "We should have the ability to handle those flights on the basis of a marketing strategy, and this could be possible after privatization and reorganization of the presidency." Prince Fahd said efforts were under way to expand airports in the northern cities of Jouf, Arar and Gurayyat. However, he dismissed prospects of establishing new airports at present. He said studies on transforming the Presidency of Civil Aviation into a general organization were completed. "This transformation will give the organization the necessary flexibility to carry out privatization, ensure private sector participation and expedite infrastructure projects," he added. The aviation chief highlighted the significance of the recently opened Prince Salman Airport in Dawadmi, located about 250 km west of Riyadh. "The presence of another airport in the central region is significant for aviation security since it could be used during an emergency," he explained.

From Arab News, Saudi Arabia, by P.K. Abdul Ghafour, 14 April 2003

MP: Privatization Encourages Growth of Cooperatives

Tehran - The Majlis deputy from Orumiyeh, Shahrbanou Amani Zangeneh, here Monday lauded the national drive for privatization, saying it would give the cooperative sector a greater and expanded role in the country's economy. Speaking to IRNA, she said the activities of cooperatives help in balancing the economy because of the underlying principle with which they operate which puts a premium on cooperative efforts. According to articles 43 and 44 of the Iranian Constitution, the economy is split into three sectors - governmental, private and cooperative sectors, she pointed out. "The apparent lack of a culture of cooperation in the country is regarded as an important obstacle in meeting our objectives," she lamented. "The expansion of the cooperative sector in the country will help prevent the rise of monopolies," she further said. She pointed out that in most advanced countries cooperatives are a vital part of their economies. By creating a culture of cooperation, a lot of capital and ideas can be tapped for the good of society, she said. The government can financially or systematically assist cooperatives to grow and create more job opportunities, she concluded.

From IRNA, Iran, 28 April 2003

 

Personnel Privatization Still Concerns Some Senators

Some state senators raised concerns today about privatization of the state personnel system. But officials of the Department of Management Services assured them that Convergys Corp. has everything under control. The actual "outsourcing" of more than 500 state jobs is supposed to start on May 1and the phase-in will be completed by New Year's Day. Sens. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Ron Klein, D-Delray Beach, raised questions at a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee about the seven-year, $278 million Convergys contract. Both men said they are concerned that, if the new system isn't cheaper and better than the current method of each agency having its own personnel office, the state will have nothing to fall back upon. "When a contractor fails and you've dismantled your apparatus, you're stuck," Klein said. Simone Marstiller, the interim DMS secretary, assured the committee that Convergys is making rapid progress toward converting state personnel systems to its private computer banks. She said employee personnel records will be scanned into an on-line system and the benefits enrollment files will be ready for the new insurance sign-up period in the fall. Marstiller said Convergys will begin hiring employees, including some current state-employed personnel technicians, on May 1. Read more about this in Bill Cotterell's story in tomorrow's Tallahassee Democrat or go to www.tallahassee.com.

From The Tallahassee Democrat, 10 April 2003