Better Service Delivery through the use of IT
Author: Barsha Paudel Publication Type: Policy Discussion Paper 

The governments from many developing and developed countries including Nepal have been making an effort to introduce the merits of Information Technology (IT) through policies, directives and regulations in order to transform service-delivery in their countries and fully embrace e-governance. This paper aims to analyze the efforts of the Nepalese government in introducing e-governance in state institutions responsible for delivering core services to the citizens of the country.

Despite the fact that Nepal’s first IT policy was formulated in 2000 AD, the plummeting E-Government Development Index (EGDI) and the existing shortcomings in the implementation of e-governance in delivering services reflect the existence of a huge gap between the policies, related guidelines and acts/laws outlined in paper and their implementation on the ground. This research identifies and analyzes these implementation gaps in detail.

In order to discuss the existing policy gaps and highlight the shortcomings, two representative Kathmandu-based government offices, the Department of Passport (DoP) and the Office of Company Registrar (OCR), are selected as case studies as they target two different yet specific types of service seekers; the general public and businesses. Since market and service seeker side constraints are discounted from this research, only those policies and directives that enhance the government of Nepal’s (GoN) e-service delivery capacity are picked. The United Nations’ (UN) four-stage e-governance model’s top tier phase, the connected phase, is chosen as the ideal stage of e-governance. Each selected IT policy agenda is then assessed under different sub-headings to identify which stage of the e-governance model it facilitates, what other government moves support that particular policy and what supportive or contradictory practices exist in the two representative offices. The research indicates that the government of Nepal has formulated and executed some policies that support a more mature phase of e-governance without paying heed to establishing the necessary foundations for successfully implementing the changes envisioned. Furthermore, the research shows that the lack of constant revision and policy-monitoring has resulted in a rather inefficient and outdated policy document in the context of the current agenda for e-governance. The lack of realistic timelines and milestones for most of the programs highlight that the strategies have not been assessed rigorously for their feasibility and possible risks making the implementation inefficacious. Also, the blindfolded acceptance of consulting reports produced by external agencies without necessary homework and thorough review has resulted in sub-standard works. Based on these findings and observations, the research concludes that given the lack of pre-requisites in place and the lack of commitment from the government offices, most of the government offices are still at the primitive transactional phase of e-governance which is a long way from attaining the ideal phase.