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Traditional government approaches are faced with challenges which can easily be eliminated using e-government applications which include the internet and the World Wide Web. Electronic Government refers to the use of technology in government operations in providing information and services to the users or clients. Most governments are using e-government to positively transform infrastructure, reduce costs of government operations, collection of taxes & custom duty and save on procurement procedures.
Effective transformation of a nation through the use of e-government can only occur when the opinion of the government, businesses and citizens of that particular nation are taken into consideration. If they are comfortable acquiring information and accessing government services using the internet or web, then the government can implement the system. However, if the government, business or the citizens are opposed to it, then the system cannot excel and implementation of the system will be a loss to the government in the long run.
The government can effectively use e-government facilities to not only disburse information and services from government to government, government to citizens and government to businesses but also to enhance health and fundamental relationships between and amongst the connections. The government should use the technology to enhance their service and information delivery. Implementation of electronic government services sometimes may be haunted by laws and policies protecting citizens or government stakeholders. To overcome these challenges reform processes should be implemented to allow for change in policies that hinder electronic government. Consultations with stakeholders (Government agencies, public & private corporations and citizens) to change laws to give room to governmental online e-services must be encouraged to obtain publication of government information electronically.
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Moreover, if infrastructure does not allow inception of electronic government, measures to institute sound infrastructure systems should be considered. Programs compatible with governmental communications should be created and networking done to allow accessibility of the service to all regions of the country.
2- Research Problem
Describe the probable challenges in implementation of e-government technology in relation to security and Utility aspects and recommendations that can ensure introduction of e-government successfully in the Arab countries.
3- Research Objective
The aim of research is to establish the challenges facing the usability of electronic government and incorporation of security aspects in its usage and to suggest measures undertaken to overcome the difficulties hence guarantee successful electronic government applications in the Arab countries. In overcoming the challenges the Arab countries can benefit for technology which in the long run will be cost effective in running government operations and transactions allowing efficient communication among the stakeholders (Government agencies, businesses and citizens).
4- Research Methodology
Research conducted to explore factors affecting the usability of e-government facilities in one of Arab countries majored on focus group methodology to establish the usability, the extent and challenges faced. University students were recruited for the research purpose because the population majorities that use internet services regularly are student adults.
Firstly, from the data collected through questionnaires, 85% claimed that the e-government services will be beneficial to them. They considered the service convenient & efficient in terms of delivery, saved time & money and 42% of those who participated in the research said that stressful circumstance would be avoided and unpleasant encounters with employees would be eradicated.
Consequently, the perception of students in regard to online services is that online services can easily be learnt and used. Although they insisted that adequate support services must be provided and enhanced to make access of the e-government services easier.
Thirdly, 78 % of the participants said that unnecessary governmental procedures in transaction completion would be voided when e-government services were used making the process simple and uncomplicated.
Fourthly, those familiar with social networks such as Facebook and others will find it easy to access e-government online services. Subsequently, from the research conducted, there were no gender differences noted in the outcome.
In addition, 64% of the participant had confidence and trust in the usage of internet technology. They believed that advanced technology would ensure protection against fraud, theft and hacking (Morris & AIA Wadhi, 2009).
Challenges facing usability of electronic government
Firstly, e-government services can only be available and usable to users with online capabilities.
Traditional citizens who like things done in the traditional way will find it challenging to change to the new system. Moreover, cultural differences among various users may affect the usability behaviour of the online services.
Illiteracy and disability
These refer to the uneducated who may not read, write or less use a computer hence cannot access e-government online services.
Lack of Internet Trust
It was noted that 30 % of the participants claimed e-government were crowded with insecurity and lack of privacy. They feared that their personal information would be exposed and put into wrong use by hackers (Morris & AIA Wadhi, 2009).
Lack of online Awareness
Although the government had used several modes of communication to sensitize and make the public aware of the online e-government services, 87% of the participants claimed they were not familiar with the services. This means more campaigns must be conducted in the future.
56% of the research participants were concerned about technical issues that may arise in the usage of the e-government services that would definitely interrupt transactions and cause delay effects (Morris & AIA Wadhi, 2009).
Challenges Facing the Security of Electronic Government
Lack of confidence and Trust
The security of electronic government online services must be ensured to gain confidence with the government, businesses and citizen of the Arab countries. The major concern of security is how safe is the confidential information of the government, businesses and citizens when online services are used.
Poor Management of Information Records
Poorly managing and storing of information will lead to the risk of losing important personal information hence insecurity. As a result, information necessary for economic and social advancement may not be available when needed.
5- Literature Review (Recommendations)
An electronic government facilitates communication among many stakeholders such as government, corporate public and private businesses, citizens. The information shared is in large volumes and therefore should be given priority in terms of protection and appropriate usability.
To conquer technical problems, the government should ensure that they built network capacities capable of handling the large amount of transactions and operation online.
The usability of the electronic government facility should be simplified, especially for those less familiar with use of online services or illiterate. These will increase participation in the usage of electronic government services. Programs to assist the illiterate and disabled should be developed and implemented to allow them to benefit from the online services. Implementation of education programs will also assist in teaching and educating the illiterate and disabled. Provision of computer aiding tools, use of applications with varied systems such as speech or picture oriented instead of only written form and use of vernacular languages will make education easier and accessible to them. Progress and evaluation mechanisms should be applied legally to check advancement of the users (Holmes, 2001).
The privacy of the government information stored online should be ensured at all costs and government agencies, public & private companies and citizen should be notified on how it is done. Some of the measures that can be employed include education and training of government officers on the importance of privacy policies; systems and applications should be formulated to allow privacy security and access to the information data should be minimized only to the authorized persons and not all employees.
In addition, awareness of electronic government online services should be done through campaign, media and other appropriate communication channels. Online research should regularly be conducted to check whether needs of the users are met adequately (Holmes, 2001).
Confidentiality of the e-government online users is paramount. Therefore, secure information system must be established to ensure availability, integrity, accountability and confidentiality of the users’ information in the information system. If security is not ensured, the intended users will not trust in the electronic government services and will not provide any personal or detailed information.
To curb the problem of lack of insecurity and confidentiality, the government should institute electronic government systems that are integrated securely. These systems should have independent security domains which activate specific and unique mechanisms, data model and security buttons. Also for each domain environment, varied computing platforms should be incorporated to allow access.
Furthermore, the following procedural measures should be adhered to regularly.
A senior computer security officer should be employed by the government to supervise and ensure that security is maintained at all cost. The officer should regularly access the information system for security precaution; obtain a backup of all information stored in the government data and ensure that personal details of persons’ disclosure are minimized in the system and any disclosure to a third party should be done only with consent from the particular individual or government authorization required only by the law.
In addition, continuous training of junior officers on computer security matters should be done regularly. Monitoring and evaluation performance measures should also be implemented, especially for managers to ensure that they practice the required work protocol as regards information and computer security all the time.
To encourage proper management of information records, sound and credible networks should be established by online government stakeholders to allow data sharing and connectivity among various sections. Offline computer hubs archives should be created for storage of process records. These will enable the online computer stream to be more efficient to facilitate easy flow of information. In addition, data searches in the established networks and institution sharing information should be standardized and accessibility made easy by efficient systems (Chen &Dimitrove, 2006).
Finally, the Arab countries should endeavour to implement and make electronic government technology a part of government running tool. Most countries are globally using electronic government to govern national operations and henceforth there is a need for the Arab countries to overcome the challenges they are facing in electronic government in order to establish electronic governments successfully.
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