ICT Perspectives

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E-government as the modern driver of sustainable public sector development

1/2017

     Today technological advancements across multiple disciplines suggest a profound transformation of the way the future communities are conceived, organized and managed. Recent proliferation of Digital Communication systems, Internet/Intranet technology and Open-Source software resulted in restructuring of new generation of information systems into cheaper, inter-connectable and globally accessible user-friendly systems, enabling multiple disciplines to move towards “Information Society” age.
     Uzbekistan – an Asian country that is demonstrating rapid development in state economy and in various disciplines of state industry is making commendable efforts to follow this global tendency. Since the establishment of e-Government Centre and imposition of respective legislation acts in 2013, there has been achieved a quantum leap towards adoption of cutting-edge Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions in all spheres of government.
     Proliferation of ICT in Uzbekistan, government reforms in ICT field along with encouragement of a level field for software developer vendors and strong emphasis on fostering domestic labor force that specialize on ever-evolving aspects of ICT are considered as the main factors that have established the background of it. Effective information-communication society was formed which is gradually thriving by means of electronic media implementation, web portals, internet publications, online-radio and TV. Adoption of the Law “On electronic government” in 2015 and introduction of more than 40 governmental decisions on the ‘electronic government’ have contributed to establish regulatory framework that clearly defines core functions, architecture and principles of accomplishing flawless e-government system in Uzbekistan.
     According to the Law “On electronic government”, there are 7 major principles of e-government:
     ● Openness and transparency of activities of governmental organizations
     ● Equal access to applicant for electronic government services
     ● Provision of governmental services through the principle of “single point of access”
     ● Document unification within governmental organizations
     ● Usage of single identifiers of e-Government
     ● Continuous improvement of the order of providing electronic governmental services
     ● Provision of information security.
     Development of each information system, database and interactive service is deemed to be undertaken in accordance with aforementioned principles of e-Government.
     It is hard to overlook essential role of Single Portal of Interactive Services within the e-government system in Uzbekistan. Although it has not been too long since the establishment of the portal, there has been accomplished commendable progress in terms of enriching the volume of provided state services. As of today, over 290 interactive services are rendered in cooperation with over 600 governmental organizations. Since the beginning of 2016, the number of online applications has increased by 2 times and amounted to 800,000. Comparing the traditional procedure of rendering state services with latter one, remarkable efforts were done upon achieving relation usage of resources and favorable facilities to citizens. Previously, the government had to invest more time and financial resource to provide these services manually.
 
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     The figure above illustrates the number of total consumed and requested interactive state services by both legal entities and individuals for 2016 by month. The most frequent consumption and request for online services occurred in June, while the lowest volume can be noted in January of 2016. Overall, the average usage volume constitutes 43 thousand requests for interactive service requests and 42,5 thousand rendered online services respectively (The single portal of interactive state services, 2016).
     Most part of state interactive services is provided by 12 Complexes of Information Systems (CIS) within the framework of e-government system that were predefined by several legislative acts and resolutions of the first President of Uzbekistan – Islam Karimov and the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan that coordinate activities of Ministry for development of information technologies and communications (hereinafter “MITC”) and its subordinate organizations. Overall, development of 12 Complexes of Information Systems was determined as the core of e-Government architecture. Six centralized database systems are being developed to support the performance of CIS with unique data resources.
     Out of 12 Complexes of Information Systems 5 of them were deployed for commercial usage. Customs (“Bodjkhona”), Procurement (“Kharid”), Clearing, Budget and Tax (“Soliq”) are among them, while Complex of Information Systems License is running on a testing mode and is yet to be deployed officially.
     Clearing is a Complex of Information System for development of billing system of retail payment in real time basis. The project foresees the combination of billing system of mobile operators, utility service providers and billing systems of other organizations into one central secure system. During the 9 month period of performance in 2016, an overall value of 1.5 trillion UZS were recorded in retail payments. Inclusion of billing systems of national Internet Providers is planned for further development of the system.
     Procurement (“Kharid”) is a Complex of Information System for rendering interactive state services for organization of government procurement processes. Establishment of CIS Procurement (“Kharid”) enabled active involvement of small business and private enterprise entities to the government and corporate procurements. Huge benefits such as encouragement of concurrency, efficient use of financial resources by establishing reasonable price system along with the ensuring of transparency in government and corporate procurements were noted upon the establishment of the system. For the period of 2011-2016, overall 408,848 e-trades in government procurement were recorded with a sum of 497,161.8 million UZS, while 17,850 e-trades in corporate procurement were recorded with overall amount transactions comprised 370,431.3 million UZS. Adoption of the following system generated financial savings around 190 million UZS.
     Tax (“Soliq”) is a Complex of Information System for rendering interactive state services in the sphere of taxation through my.soliq.uz web portal. The main rationale behind development of the system is optimization of the electronic services rendering procedure to the business and individual entities; enhancing quality and access rate; overcoming administrative barriers. Creation of consolidated database of taxpayers was also another turning point that accelerated overall creation of information infrastructure within taxation organizations. The system was developed in the cooperation with State Tax Committee and was successfully launched. It is fully integrated with Single Portal of Interactive services and renders 31 e-services. Three types of cabinets were developed in order to provide the best user convenience for different status of users such as self-proprietors, individuals and legal entities. Personal cabinet was used by 94 006 legal entities, 622 862 individuals and 19 738 sole proprietors in January of 2017. Apart from consuming interactive state services, users of the personal cabinet are offered online communication tool that enables online consultation with the member of State Tax Committee. Development of mobile version of the system is considered as one of the future development plans for the system.
 
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     The given figure above depicts the frequency of total usages of taxpayer personal cabinets by legal entities, individuals and sole proprietorships between October 2016 and February 2017 in monthly period. The highest volume of usage for individuals and sole proprietors occurred in January of 2017, while legal entities used the cabinets the most frequent in February. The lowest volume of cabinet usages happened in October of 2016 for all type of users (my.soliq.uz, 2017).
     Customs (“Bodjkhona”) is a Complex of Information System for providing interactive state services for provision of customs clearance. Dozens of interactive state services were issued by this period and more than 72 thousand cargo customs declarations were processed through the following system. Furthermore, the procedure of customs clearance of imported goods was optimized from 8.5 days to 1.8 day. Another notable accomplishment of the system is the adoption of personal cabinet for entrepreneurs that consolidates provision of more than 10 interactive services in one single interface (Ganieva, 2016). Consistent implementation of modern ICT solutions within the customs organizations enables to build the sound monitoring system of customs processes and enhance the quality of interactive services towards achieving maximum satisfaction of users.
     Budget is a major complex of information system that consolidates, processes and stores systematic info regarding planning and execution of government budget. Due to latest statistics, all of the departments were covered with almost 4 500 users and more than 186 000 personal accounts were created within the system. More than 25 000 agencies were registered in the system.
     Another significant phenomenon in forming e-government system is the launching open data portal for offering single point of access to a wide range of data held by government institutions, agencies and other bodies. The portal allows anyone to easily search, explore, link, download and reuse the data for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Commissioning of the new national open data portal, which was utilized more than 630 thousand times, since its formation in 2015, has become an important tool for the development of business start-ups. The portal comprises 1,750 sets of public data provided by 109 organizations.
     Many external partners and foremost publications around the world acknowledged such a great volume of achievements. The Financial Times, international daily newspaper with a special emphasis on business and economic news, has praised the recent development in this purview in a holistic way by claiming:
‘Today, in the country with a population of 32 million people, 60% of which are youth, cellular communication is used by 21 million, and the internet — by more than 13 million people, says the publication. As a result of abovementioned large-scale measures, which were adopted in the country, Uzbekistan has significantly improved position in 2016 UN ranking of on the level of e-government development, entering the 40% of the most advanced countries of the world and took the 80th place among countries that use e-government, as well as the 47th place for e-participation index which assesses the effectiveness of the government dialogue with their citizens and businesses. In Uzbekistan this indicator is on the 3rd place among the CIS countries and the first among the Central Asian countries.’
     Considering the scope of future strategy of Uzbek e-government development, achievements can be regarded as only “foundation” of Uzbek e-government system towards achieving sustainable development in all spheres of the society. International experts of UN are urging government officials to provide public services online through one stop-platform – an approach that makes it easier to access public services, which is the case in recent Uzbek e-government development strategy. After all, these efforts are aimed to tackle the most widespread and abiding problems in society and governmental organizations. Therefore, necessity of achieving sound e-government infrastructure is vital towards ensuring public institutions entail more inclusiveness, effectiveness, accountability and transparency in their performances.
 
 
Abduvoris ABDUVAKHOBOV,
Specialist of Division for development of information systems complexes

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