UAE government plots e-transformation

The UAE government is looking to develop its e-government services as part of an overall strategy to improve its efficiency and establish the federal government in the digital economy.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  April 24, 2003

|~||~||~|The UAE government is looking to develop its e-government services as part of an overall strategy to improve its efficiency and establish the federal government in the digital economy. The UAE Ministry of Finance, which is heading the project, will facilitate the move by transforming the way in which the government operates and interacts with its ministries, other businesses, and its citizens.

“This project is integral to a number of transformation initiatives that have been launched by the UAE Federal Government to achieve rapid and significant transformation in the provision and efficiency of federal government services within the UAE,” comments Musabeh Mohamed Al Suwaidi, project sponsor, UAE Ministry of Finance and Industry.

In the first six months of the project, the UAE Ministry of Finance will work towards developing a holistic e-government strategy. “In this phase, we will assess the e-readiness of the federal ministries and define the main areas of their efficiencies,” says Khalid Ali Al Bustani, assistant secretary for revenue and budget at the UAE Ministry of Finance, who is also part of the federal e-government Steering Committee.

The Ministry of Finance will work closely with IBM Business Consulting Services to identify, prioritise and implement these e-government initiatives. IBM’s team of seven, which includes experts who have worked on other e-government projects in Australia, the UK and the US, will also evaluate the technical infrastructure currently available in the ministries and the possibility of integrating local government systems with its partners in the business community.

All this will be done through visits to federal installations, questionnaires, interviews, surveys and other global methodologies. Once the study is complete, the federal e-government Steering Committee and IBM will develop a blueprint for the e-government project and establish a two-year timeline for its implementation.

“This is a good time to review the way we do our business,” says Bustani. “Our teams will identify areas for improvement, re-engineering, and establish how the government can do its business better. We will also see how we can achieve seamless integration between the various departments,” he continues.

Once the roadmap is in place, IT teams from both the federal government and IBM will work together to define what technology infrastructure is required for the project and how they should implement it. The UAE government has also solicited the help of local universities to provide it with technical resources for the project.

“We have an agreement with Zayed University to provide us with a project manager and other resources required for project management,” says Bustani. “Some of their student resources will also be part of this project from inception. This is very good because it will enable transfer of knowledge to UAE nationals and we can use them to support our future e-government initiatives. We also have in place a technology team with representatives from each ministry. So if there are any discussions across the board, each ministry’s technical representative will be available,” he adds.

The federal government is also working closely with the Dubai e-government team on the project. “We are in line with Dubai e-government team. We already signed an agreement with them for the use of the e-dirham online. It is important that we integrate all our functions between ministries in the federal government, as well as with local e-government projects so that we are one holistic entity providing seamless integrated service to all our citizens,” Bustani continues.

The biggest challenge facing the federal government is change management, as it will have to switch from a 7.30 - 2 outfit to a 24/7 operation. As such, government employees will need to be re-skilled and attitudes will need to be realigned to meet new demands. “This is more of a change project than a technology project,” says Dr. Mohammed Emir Mavani, advisor, group public sector reforms.

However, Mavani believes the culture shift will be relatively easy to achieve as 70% of the federal government workforce is in its 30s and open to change.||**||

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