E-governance in the Philippines: Measuring Government Email Interaction and Use of Social Media

By Samantha Cinco

Abstract

This study aims to look into e-governance in the Philippines. Information and communication technology has really opened up a multitude of opportunities to interact with people and this is also being applied in government. This study looked at the presence of a sample of government entities online through their websites. It also measured the responsiveness of these entities through emails and lastly checked its inclination of the use of social media. This study was able to show that the Philippines is participating in the trend of e-governance. However, the current (as well as the future) still need to invest move to make show that government is indeed “online” and ready to interact with and respond to the needs of their constituents.

Introduction

The advent of information and communication technology was really one of the biggest innovations the world has ever seen. It opened a multitude of new opportunities of doing things and making activities easier for people. The concept of E-government or government online is one that has been catching attention for the past few years. It describes a government who is able to reach their constituents through modern means of communication, specifically the internet.

This study aims to measure the responsiveness of government among modern modes of communication and interaction, most specifically email and social media. The ways to communicate with people have expanded over the past few years. This means that government also has a lot of new ways to reach its constituents and better serve its people.

With this study, the author wanted to see how responsive government was to new forms of technology and how they have also utilized these new technologies. This will give insights on who government wishes to reach with their dissemination. It is extremely important that government be able to reach their constituents. Traditional modes would work well with some of the older generation but news forms, such as through social media, can be very vital to reach the youth.

The problem this study seeks to answer is simple. Is government responsive to new forms of communication and does it adapt new technologies to reach more of its constituents? Simple data collection was done to test and find answers to these questions.

Literature Review

E-government

According to Jeong, e-government (short for electronic government and also known as Internet government, online government, or connected government) consists of digital interactions between a citizen and their government, between governments and government agencies, between government and citizens, between government and employees, and between government and businesses. This form of digital interaction consists of e-citizens, information, governance, information and communication technology, and business process engineering (2007).

The United Nations Public Administration Network conducts a bi-annual survey which has a section on e-government readiness. This ranks government on the basis of two things: 1) state of e-government readiness and 2) the extent of e-participation. These two are measured by quantitative variables based on e-government initiatives shown by web presence, telecommunication infrastructure, and human resource endowments. The top 5 countries in this index for 2014 are South Korea, Australia, Singapore, France and the Netherlands respectively. The Philippines ranked 95th out of 193 UN-member countries (2014).

According to MSG, the advantages of e-government are the following: 1) improved efficiency; 2) savings on time and money; 3) better communication; 4) less need for manpower; and 5) greater transparency in government. The disadvantages are the following: 1) loss of person to person interaction; 2) more excuses are made by government due to technical problems; 3) inaccessibility to some citizens or constituents; and 4) security factors (2014).

The OECD has published several research findings on e-government innovations and services. Some of them are even case studies on several OECD countries. According to one of their published works, E-Government for Better Government written by Lau, the OECD sees e-government as an enabler for long-term transformation of governments and something that goes beyond online service delivery. They have found through experience however that putting public administration online does not necessarily lead to better governance. They stressed the need for value proposition as simply putting the new services online does not automatically bring in new customers nor improve the way government does business nor automatically increase accountability. They stressed that the use of information and communication technology in public administration must be accompanied by carefully considered reform and modernization initiatives (2005).

Government Interaction

In a study conducted by Reddick, he examined government interaction and e-government from the supply side. Much of the studies on e-government have focused on government providing online and electronic services to people. This study focused on the demand side or the need of the constituents for e-government. His results show that there are only certain types of people who would demand e-services from government. Those actually working in government are more likely to explore these services while those aged 55-60 are less likely to use them. The study also shows the accessibility problem. Only those with a certain amount of income will be able to explore the different services provided to them by government. The study concludes that e-citizens are very prevalent so the use of e-services improves government’s interaction with its constituents. (2004).

Information and Communication Technology

Rouse defines information and communication technology or ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, phones, computers, and networks. This term also includes various activities associated with the above mentioned (2014).

According to Gichoya, governments around the world have been implementing a wide range of ICT projects all around the world. He identified several factors that would determine the success or failure of the application of ICT in government. The success of ICT in government is determined by drivers and enables. Drivers are those that enforce the successful implementation of the ICT. Some drivers are vision and strategy, government support, external pressure and donor support, rising consumer expectations, and technological change, modernization, and globalization. Enablers are active elements present in the society which help overcome potential barriers. Some enablers are effective management and good practice (2005).

Business Process Reengineering

    The UN defined business process reengineering (BPR) as a management approach aiming at improvements by increasing efficiency and effectiveness of process: 1) within public organization; 2) across public organizations; 3) from public organizations to businesses; and 4) from public organizations to citizens. BPR was applied in e-services. It involves fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements. When applied to public administration, it involves investments in computerization or automation of business processes. The quality of government services is dependent on its business services. This also includes the integration of e-government. It called for drastic changes rather than incremental changes in government (n.d.).

According to Martin and Montagna, business process reengineering was developed in the 1990’s and it had a high impact on management and transaction of private companies. The problem with it was that I was not so well accepted among the public sector as it didn’t work so well for public administration. They also found out that there was particular difficulty in applying e-government with BPR (2006).

Development Administration

Development administration refers to policies, ides, programs and projects which are employed in developing nations. It is seen from the point of view of socio-economic and socio-political development. In general, development administration should have the following characteristics: 1) reject status quo and directs toward change; 2) induces planning as essential to decide the framework of resources and time allotted for a development function; 3) involves innovation; and 4) focuses on planning for and with the people (MSG, 2014).

Key Concepts Used in the Research

E-government

  • This is basically a news means for government to interact with its constituents. It uses ICT as a medium in order to deliver essential public services to the people.

Information and Communication Technology

  • This refers to new means of communication most specifically internet technology. As the study aimed to look into e-governance in the Philippines, ICT serves as the medium to measure this.

Social Media

  • This refers to computer-mediated tools that allow people to share their lives online. This is extremely popular among the younger generation. This study used social media as one of the platforms to measure e-governance within the Philippines.

Method

The author picked at random (through fishbowl method) 20 government agencies/departments from the three different branches of government as a sample (complete list from the Official Gazette). These agencies/departments are the following: Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), Office of the President (OP), Office of the Vice President (OVP), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Finance (DOF), Supreme Court of the Philippines, Senate of the Philippines, the House of Representatives (HOR), Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Court of Appeals (CA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

The first thing the author checked was if these different government entities had a website wherein they post their information. After which, the author got the email address posted in the site and compiles those in a list. A portion of the sample did not have email addresses listed in their websites as a means to contact them.

The author then sent a generic email to each address. The contents of the email are as follows:

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

 

Good day! My name is Samantha Cinco and I am a 3rd year Economics student from the University of the Philippines Diliman. For one of my classes, Polsci 150 or National and Local Administration, we were tasked to write a term paper on any topic of our choosing.

 

I’m currently doing research on government responsiveness. Would it be possible to insist the help of your agency for this?

 

I’d gladly discuss with any representative of yours the details of the research.

 

I am hoping you can help me on this. 

 

Sincerely,

Samantha Joy Uranza Cinco

III – BS Economics

University of the Philippines Diliman

+639-174057265

The author then waits and sees how long the given agency/department will take to reply to the said email. The parameters used are if they reply within one (1) working day, within two (2) workings days and within three (3) working days or no reply at all. The author will also take not of emails that weren’t functioning. This serves as the general basis of whether or not government responds to queries of its constituents.

Lastly, the author then checks if the agencies have active social networking sites specifically Twitter and Facebook.

Discussion and Analysis

The results for the study are as follows:

*1 WD = Within 1 working day

*2 WD = Within 2 working days

*NR = Within 3 working days or no reply

Agency/Department Website Email Response Twitter Facebook
DOTC NR
DTI NR
NEDA NR
DOST
DOLE NR
DOH NR
OP NR
OVP NR
DA
DBM NR
DepEd 1 WD
DENR
DOF NR
Supreme Court 2 WD
Senate NR
HOR
CTA
DPWH NR
CA NR
DOE NR

The first thing one will notice from this is that all of the agencies/departments in the sample have websites. This is a sign that government has been investing in having a presence online.

On the emails, majority of the agencies/departments have listed email addresses where they can be contacted. However, it can be seen in the next column that only two from the sample have replied, there others haven’t. This can mean that either the emails aren’t really functioning properly or that there are just no people assigned to read the general queries from the constituents.

With regards to the use of social media, majority again have a Facebook fanpage which contains information about their agency/department as well as some recent activities and announcements. It can be seen however that twitter is not a popular choice among the different government entities chosen.

Conclusion

The concept of e-government has definitely become popular due to the onset of information and communication technology. More and more governments are applying and integrating this principle into their administration. It can be said that the Philippine is following with this trend of e-governance. This research shows that the current administration is indeed participating in this new trend. This is proven as all government entities used in the sample have their own websites. However, it still needs to work more on its being responsive to queries specifically in emails. It also still isn’t employing much of social meida. Its ranking in the UN e-government readiness also reflects this.

The author further recommends more in depth research on e-governance in the Philippines. Analysis on the “completeness” of the websites could be one option as well as testing responsiveness also in their different social media sites.

Bibliography

Business Process Reengineering. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpan041436.pdf

Gichoya, D. (2005). Factors Affecting the Successful Implementation of ICT Projects in Government. The ElectronicJournal of E-Government, 3(4), 175-184.

Jeong, C. (2007). Fundamental of development admistration. Puchong, Selangor: Scholar Press.

Lau, E. (2005). E-government for better government. Paris: OECD.

MSG. (n.d.). MSG’s ITLG blog. Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://msg-itlg.blogspot.com/2008/01/advantagesdisadvantages-of-electronic.html

Martin, R., & Montagna, J. (2006). Business Process Reengineering Role in Electronic Government. In The Past and Future of Information Systems: 1976–2006 and Beyond (pp. 77-88). Springer US.

Official Directory | Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://www.gov.ph/directory/

Reddick, C. (2004). Citizen interaction with e-government: From the streets to servers? Government Information Quarterly, 38-57.

Rouse, M. (2014, January 1). ICT (information and communications technology – or technologies). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/ICT-information-and-communications-technology-or-technologies

United nations e-government survey 2014: E -government for the future we want. (2014). United Nations Public Administration Network.

What is Development Administration ? (2014, January 1). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://www.managementstudyguide.com/development-administration.htm