By Karen Abrams, MBA Marketing Startup Consultant
It has been more than 15 years since the first e-government program was launched in the United States, while in 2015, stakeholders in developing nations like Guyana, have yet to realize the benefits of computerized government departments that use technology to improve customer service, save lives, reduce costs, improve service delivery and extend service hours.
It is clear that all government ministries in Guyana would benefit from the implementation of technology information systems.
Systems that are customized to meet the ministries’ needs and designed to make the output of work more efficient. Citizens are tired of the long wait in lines for basic services or the inevitable hours long wait to ‘see a minister’ or the tragic and unnecessary loss of life due to shortage of drugs or staff or training, or the too often aggravating, ‘you can’t come into this compound dressed like that’ or the umpteenth, ‘you have to come back, the minister can’t see you now’ response from public servants tasked with serving the people of Guyana; all issues that can be resolved through the use of technology.
The following quick and random review of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in association with the local municipality, will demonstrate the potential impact of a technology solution on the cost and quality of service provided to citizens.
What if citizens all across Guyana were able to use the internet or their cell phones to pay bills, report damaged roads, blocked kokers and drains, flooded streets, broken lamp posts, dangerous electrical lines, and broken water mains to their local governments and to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure simultaneously? What if that data was then automatically compiled and prepared for review of priority within various departments and immediately added to a schedule indicating when the problem would be resolved? What if that schedule were available online or by mobile app for all citizens across Guyana to view?
What if a complete and updated inventory of every road sign, streetlight, stelling and other public assets across Guyana were tracked in an internal system where they could be routinely reviewed by analysts and proactively replaced or maintained before breaking down and causing harm or gross inconvenience to citizens, and maybe even loss of life.
What if a schedule of new public infrastructure projects were posted and frequently updated online or available by mobile app so that citizens across the country could track when to expect improved services or learn how their taxpayer dollars were being spent? What if citizens knew when the roads in their communities would be upgraded, repaired or built, when drains would be cleaned, when major projects would be completed?
While the system description above is most certainly incomplete, the development or customization, installation and maintenance costs for an information system to manage government services have come down significantly over time and such systems easily pay for themselves in cost savings within a couple of years. In addition, implementing such systems result in more efficient management of operations, allowing for more projects to be added to the schedule.
Guyanese citizens should encourage all ministers to review their department operations with the goal of reducing operational costs, and improving service delivery and overall department efficiency. Implementing information systems in government ministries would overtime save taxpayer dollars and result in a better life for many Guyanese.