Inha University and UNPOG builds partnership on e-Governance
INCHEON, KOREA — With the continuous development of globalization and informatization, management of state affairs is gradually shifting from traditional state-centric ruling to more participatory governance.
In the realization of good governance, ICT has become the medium to constant and adequate flow of knowledge and information between government and citizens transforming the way governments and citizens interact. e-governance is the ICT-enabled route to achieving good governance, improving information and service delivery, encouraging citizen participation in the decision-making process and making government more accountable, transparent and effective.
In 2000, the Korean government initiated the implementation of e-government digitalizing all the administrative processes. The government's portal site evolved from simple information-disclosing portal to an integrated site dealing with various services including civil affairs, tax, patents, school information and social insurances, saving cost and time for unnecessary paper work and increasing information security. In 2012, Korea has won three UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) and three special awards in the recently conducted UN e-Government Survey. Consecutively, voices have been raised from the international society pursuing Korea's greater contribution to promoting good governance in developing countries.
The Global e-Governance Forum(GFeG), a non-profit and collaborative meeting, was held as part of an effort to support the materialization of e-government for developing countries, in partnership with governments, international organizations, NGOs and private sectors. Building the global network, the forum aimed at providing a set of recommendations and guidelines on public policies and public officials' conduct to reduce digital gap. At the inaugural meeting held in Seoul last April, a consensus was reached among participants that a new paradigm for e-government should be created highlighting ‘participation’ and ‘sharing’. As an advanced country in information technology, Korea should impart their knowledge and best practices to bridge the digital divide and build a long-term trust with the partner countries. Dr. Choonbae Park, president of Inha University and Dr. Alexei Tikhomirov, Acting Head of UN Project Office on Governance(UNPOG) and Professor Seunghwan Myeong, chairperson of GfeG Standing Committee had a meeting at Inha University on July 16 and discussed further the cooperation between UNPOG and Inha University.
UNPOG and Inha University Collaboration
“UNPOG and Inha University within the GFeG framework can closely work together in propagating excellent initiatives and practices in e-Governance recognized by UNPSA and UN e-Government Survey. The two parties can collaborate to disseminate these award-winning practices around the world, especially to Asia-Pacific UN Members. These organizations can promote research and training courses in e-Government for public service delivery,” said Dr. Tikhomirov. UNPOG of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) was established in 2006 to assist the UN Member States in improving their governance efficiency by conducting research and capacity building activities while disseminating effective global as well as local practices on participatory, transparent and effective democratic governance. To ultimately disseminate this system of governance, UNPOG has organized various capacity developing workshops, and has conducted researches on e-procurement, transparency in local governance, gender mainstreaming and e-governance in the Asia and Pacific region.
“In this global digital age, the use of ICT in governance helps simplify processes and makes accessibility to government information easier for public sector agencies and citizens. Developing countries, however, often lack stable education system and adequate training infrastructure to foster personnel to administer the e-governance system. For this reason, Inha University, best known for its College of Engineering and ICT Training Program gladly committed itself with UNDESA to contribute knowledge and expertise to the global society,” said Dr. Choonbae Park. Inha University is one of top ten colleges in Korea and has great competence in information technology training. The Graduate School of Information Technology & Telecommunication is ranked first by the top five IT Group Survey. The sector's growth is partly credited to the interest of Hanjin group (owner of Korean Airline), investing around USD 100 million a year, mainly in R&D for technology development and application.
The Global CIO network
“The most critical factors in assisting developing countries are institutional and human resource development including leadership reinforcement and partnership intensification between public and non-public sectors in the delivery of public services. Well-trained government officials with clear and definite visions could bring about positive institutional changes. One of UNPOG’s visions for international and domestic communities is evidenced in its undivided efforts to establish and strengthen the global CIOs (Chief Information Officers) network through the formation of regional focal points or centers and promotion of information villages' network. This initiative will facilitate information sharing among the Member States, the networks serving as platform for communities in developing partnership strategies and models for smart government,” said Dr. Tikhomirov.
Both organizations discussed possible ways of cooperation in building the global CIO network, including the new Silk Road, strategically encompassing regions such as Central Asia. Dr. Park shared the view, saying it was a fascinating and perfectly feasible plan, underlining Inha University's full cooperation with UNPOG in carrying out the scheme with its academic prowess and highly-endowed human resources. Inha University has already established close ties with the region with Hanjin group providing opportunities for MBA program to Uzbekistan flight attendants since 2008, and scholarship programs to Mongolian students for 15 years. Dr. Park further stated that “New Silk Road for the 21st century will be a big endeavor by building Information Super Highway with network platforms for information villages and cities. Inha is ready to support this initiative and expect it as a breakthrough for reducing global digital divide among countries.”
Joint Research and Trainings for Countries with Special Conditions
“Korea should also take the lead in helping the recovery of post-disaster and post-war countries. For instance, when U.S. combat forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, there will be big demand from the country to stabilize the society and reinstate and strengthen their administration leading to the growth of e-government and mobile government. UNPOG plans to undertake a mission to assess Kabul's condition with its neighboring countries to find training venues in Afghanistan as well as in the neighboring Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, etc.” UNPOG has already conducted a regional workshop on inter-sectoral governance in Turkmenistan in 2008 and plans to organize another on e-Governance for Afghan government officials in near future to discuss establishment of information access centers, provision of training courses and dispatch of IT volunteers. Starting in 2002, the Korean government has set up information access centers in 21 developing countries to date by providing trainings on informatization through the National Information Society Agency(NIA). From this perspective, UNPOG and Inha University discussed on future collaboration to set about joint research and training projects on advanced topics and problems of e-Governance. These projects can become part of the training courses elaborated within the framework of UN Public Administration Network(UNPAN).
Dr. Park concluded, “Taking this opportunity, Inha University will take the lead in promoting good governance and bridging the global digital divide through knowledge sharing, training programs and joint research projects. We are glad to contribute our expertise and know-how to the development of regional societies and the prosperity of the global community.”