This paper particularly investigates the relationship between trust and corruption, and how the impact of corruption can be reduced through the introduction of e- governance. Corruption is an illegal behavior that is conducted by the political elites with the purpose of manipulating the states affairs for a personal gain. Trust is a value that expresses the belief that other people in the system are part of a servant’s moral responsibility. Trust is the essential element that lays the basis for cooperation with people that have different views from yours. In a society, where there is more trust, corruption level is low. People with a high degree of faith on their leaders are more likely to maintain strong standards of legal and moral behaviors (Bussell, 2011, p. 273). In other words, people, who believe in their legal system, develop a high level of trust in their fellow citizens.
One of the primary tasks in this paper is a concrete investigation on the causal order between corruption and trust. This specifically focuses on the cause and effects, and on whether these relationships are reciprocal. The causal order is crucial in this case, because trust and corruption have dire consequences. The basic assumption is that societies that have more trust on the ability of their leaders to have less corruption and better governance, in addition to the high economic growth, greater respect for the law and spends more on redistribution. If a society wants to achieve all the development policies put in place, the critical question to have in mind lies between trust and corruption (Farelo & Morris, 2007, p. 67). Can people simply let rascals, who loot the public funds lot in jail, or do they have to increase the level of trust in the society in order to reduce corruption?
According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (2000), the report suggests that there is a reciprocal relationship between trust and corruption, which means that the effect of corruption on trust is higher than the opposite (p. 48). This statement coincides with the old Chinese maxim that, “a fish starts rotting from the head down”. Corruption begins with the mighty and powerful and due to this, corrupt leaders breed distrust in the society. However, when analyzing the changes in trust and corruption, a different standpoint arises. If the societies come to be less venal, they do not necessarily become more trusting; but on the other hand, when nations grow more trusting, the level of corruption reduces. So, when the repercussions of trust and corruption are turned, the causal connection moves from trust to corruption and not vice versa.
Hypothesis of the Study
The hypothesis of this study states that E-government can increase the trust in some parts of government, but it does not increase the trust in the central government and government on the whole.
The Scourge of Corruption
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Trust and corruption are perceived as polar opposites. The cornerstone of a cooperative spirit in any society is trust, which serves as the oral sentiment that points out what we have in common amongst ourselves. On the other hand, corruption is an expression of one’s selfishness. Trust enables the leaders to give themselves both time and money by volunteering and offering their money for charity. However, on the other hand, corruption entails expropriating what belongs to others rightfully.
Political corruption is among the most destructive and unresolved problem that most societies face. It represents a direct and brutal betrayal of the public trust bestowed on these institutions. Since the political corruption rotates around a situation, where officials entrusted by the public engage themselves in projects meant for the private enrichment. Whereas corruption violates the common principles of democracy, such as equality, openness and accountability, modern research has shown that corruption is a major cause of the political distrust among citizen. This legitimate crisis in most political systems calls for improvement in methods of governance, particularly by applying the modern technology of e-governance.
Scholars have also identified other mechanisms, where corruption has been found to violate the public trust and erode the national and political legitimacy. According to …………., corruption is a major hindrance to development of political parties as the opportunities to enrich the political elite manifest itself encouraging the leaders to build their personalized clientele network to maintain them in power. This happens when the leaders are expected to be developing their organizational capacities and capabilities in a distinctive political platform that ought to represent a diverse social interest. In other words, the premium of controlling an office that results in political corruption yield that seeks for rent instead of trust enhancing and preference integrating. He also posits that corruption and lack of trust in the national leadership undermines the political participation of members of public, because the damage of corruption is predominantly directed to members of different elites and common citizens, who are alienated from the process of policy making.
Camp (2000, p.97) argues that corruption impedes performance in all government activities, thus, reduces the trust of citizen in the capability of government to address their needs. Corruption distorts the manner, in which public interests are articulated, and also diverts administrative activities and resources to areas, where there is a complete maximization of marginal gains of corruption. The question of whether the welfare of the whole is served is not put into consideration during allocation of resources, thus, victimizing the public, who ends up suffering from the externalities of corruption. These corruption externalities include impacts such as poor quality of public works and increase in cost of living that is brought about by excessive taxation to sustain the corrupt officials. This paper addresses an empirical study on whether the level of perception of citizens decreases their trust towards the government institution in an electronically run government.
Introduction to e-Government
This is a short form of electronic government. It is also known as the digital government, connected government or online government. This involves the interconnection and interaction between the citizens and the government, government to business and government to government or its agencies. This digital interaction consists of information and communication technology (ICT), the governance process, business process re-engineering and electronic citizens at all levels, including cities, towns, provinces, and counties, national and even international. Generally, e-government is normally defined as the employment of the World Wide Web and Internet in terms of delivering government services and information to all citizens. Digital governance refers to the process of utilizing information technology and web based communication technologies.
The advancement of global technology and changes in science are irreversible and many benefits are in the offing to individuals and countries. Everything is now going online, may it be in the field of health, business, security, communication and governance. Fiber optic cables are continuously being laid as one of the measure to ensure internet supply is provided and accessed in all corners of the country. Despite all these, the fates has been considered beyond gain. Such challenges include the presence of intellectual criminals who remain on their PC and intrude on other people’s database and steal important documents which leads the company to a big loss.
The achievements that have been made by the digital system of governance are one of the major priorities towards achieving the millennium development goals, which objectives are the creation of wealth and employment opportunities. Operational and effective e-government would facilitate the process of delivery of services and information to promote national productivity among public servants, at the same time ensuring the participation of the government and citizens. Among the pivotal strategies of e-government is modernization as a means of enhancement of accountability, transparency and effective governance. This makes the government become more result oriented, as well as citizens centered and efficient.
The effectiveness and efficient realization of the digital government objectives depend on the availability of skills and public administrators having the right attitude. The government personnel have to be equipped at all levels with the relevant training to carry the initiative more effectively. This calls for change in the way the government carries out its operations and, thus, a need for change management. In order to ensure a continued pool of knowledge in IT, all training programs must include IT as a major component.
Why e-Government is important
E-government is a crucial element in the government modernization. This is because it provides a common framework that offers a direction across all public sectors to enhance collaboration in and among public sector and institutions. It also identifies methods required to develop the skills necessary for the public sector to realize new opportunities provided by ICT and the Internet.
Objectives of e-Government
Basically, the overall goal of the e-method of governance is to ensure government services are more accessible to citizens, results oriented, efficient and citizens centered. The specific objectives are:
(a) Improve government collaboration with other agencies through reduction of duplication, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in allocation of resources.
(b) Improve the country’s competitiveness by providing timely information in delivering of services to the people.
(c) Reduce the transaction cost in governance of public, private through provision of electronic services and products.
(d) Provide a forum that ensures the public participation in government activities.
Advantages of Digital Government
There are several advantages that are connected with implementing an electronic government. Among the major advantages is the improvement in efficiency and effectiveness or running the government affairs. This, in return, saves time and taxpayers money, although it is quite expensive to initially install the system. Digital governance also contributes towards a better communication mechanism between the government and the corporate sector. A relevant example of such a benefit would be facilitation of e-procurement and government to government communication. This enables the small and upcoming businesses to effectively compete with their larger counterparts for government contracts. The end result for this system of government is to create a strong and open market economy that makes citizens and business obtain information faster and possibly at any time of the day.
In addition, government reduces the cost of operation as a result of reduced paperwork in all its offices. The accessibility of e-government by its citizens increases, irrespective of a person’s location. The digital government brings to its citizens the next biggest and potential benefit to all its services as most societies are moving towards the mobile connectivity. As a result of posting statistical information online, the idea of an open up government arises with accessibility of socially valuable archival and historical data. This reflects a greater transparency of services offered by the government.
Setbacks of Digital Government
Despite all the advantages that come along with the electronic method of governance, there are several drawbacks that relate to it. The major disadvantage is the process of shifting government services from the old manual system to an electronic based database. When this happens, the person to persons touch gets lost, as does the interaction, which most people value in the society.
In addition to this, the process of implementation of electronic government services is largely electronic based, and it is often too easy to make excuses, when a problem arise. Such problems include server going down as an excuse for poor services provided by technology. Although the implementation of a digital government has some constraints, the user’s literacy and his or her ability to use a computer can affect the efficiency of service. Those users, who have little knowledge in the use of computers, would definitely require assistance from an experienced administrator. Such examples would include senior citizens, who do not have much and would be required to approach the customer service officials for assistance.
Research has indicated that there are high potentials of reducing the usability of government in the digital world due to factors like accessibility of the Internet technology and computers. In addition, despite the government offering a high level of confidence in their websites, the members of the public are still concerned over its security, fear of spammers and government transaction retentions.
Implementation and Development of Electronic Government - The Effects
The implementation and development of e-government involve a thorough consideration of its effects in any organization of either the public or private sector. This consideration predominantly revolves the type and nature of service that the state provides to the members of the public.
The government may also need to consider the impacts of age, language skills, gender, along with the literacy, numeracy, and IT literacy and education standards on the recipients of its service. Economically, the government has to be concerned with the impacts of non-use, inaccessibility or unavailability of e-governments. In addition, other digital resources must be put into consideration upon the structure, on which it will rest in the society as well as the potential impacts it has on the income and economy at large.
Revenue concerns must also be put into consideration during the implementation stage. There has to be a clear consideration of the impact of e-government on the national debt, gross domestic product, commerce and trade, taxation, corporate governance, industry and trade and more particularly the Internet infrastructure.
The implication of technology on the software choices is another factor that needs to be put in a direct consideration. These choices have to be made on a conscious attention of the stakeholders. especially on open source and proprietary software or even the programming language. This is because technology flows into the masses and the neighborhood through channels like kiosks (S.A.M and AXS) for e-government services and through payment of fines and bills.
Another consideration concerns are the management and financial issues of the projects involved. Management issues entail the service integration, the Internet governance and e-governance. Financial considerations take into account such aspects as implementation cost, their effects on the existing budget, their effects on government procurement and funding.
The other aspect is the legal implication, which includes the freedom of information and the concern of public and government privacy. A relevant example would be the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC). Every citizen in Singapore has an NRIC that supports lots of information tied together with identification numbers. This puts the citizen in a exceptionally vulnerable situation, where their information can be wrongly accessed and used for illicit purposes due to the fact that the data is stored in a central server unit on the government system. Such details may include family information and bank account numbers.
The number of completely implemented projects in e-government continues to go down each day yet there are several studies in place that focus on long term success and sustainability of such projects. This report analyses the factors responsible for initial and subsequent success for sustainable e-government project. The findings indicate that despite technological process and structural factors playing a major role in the failure or success of such projects, the main source of success lies in the management teams’ ability, will and actions
Introduction of e-Procurement in Pakistan
In December 2000, the European Union introduced the electronic Europe (commonly referred to as e-Europe) initiative. Its effect on ICT policy was felt far and wide not only in Europe. It strengthened the existing initiatives to foster the development in the region. One of the major areas of the e-Europe’s action plan was to create a favorable ground for the development of electronic commerce. As an ally of the European community, Pakistan delivered its commitment to the electronic agenda through a number of initiatives (Hossan & Bartram, 2010, p. 96).
In relation to this, the program of fairness and prosperity was established to highlight the opportunities of improving the national competitiveness presented by e-commerce. Such opportunities could be achieved through the transitional acceleration of the Pakistan economy to an information society by adopting the most appropriate business strategy in the ICT market. The government’s action plan was implementation of an Information Society in the country as the most essential instrument to attain that transition. From this plan, the finance department identified e-procurement as the most crucial element in e-commerce by serving both roles. The primary objectives of introduction of e-commerce in Pakistan were:
- To accelerate the transition of Pakistan government to an Information society
- To increase the accountability and transparency in all government sectors and, thus, reduce the level of corruption of government officials
This decision was reached in terms of undertaking an initiative of e-procurement that would explore, deliver and develop the pilot projects in the enhancement of e-commerce. In order to launch the project, the concerned department established a public sector cross agency, e-procurement committees and the advisory board with the capability to accommodate the public and private sector.
The project was divided into two phases. The first phase was engaged in establishing strategic report with recommendations on the introduction of the most suitable solution to suit public sector and increase the level of public trust towards government officials. The second one was concerned with the implementation of those recommendations, which were initially tested on the basis of being extended to the larger public service. In addition to these measures, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Philip Lee solicitors were subcontracted together to perform a continuous audit and offer purchasing solutions as one of the strategic exercises to ensure the project work correctly in the manner prescribed.
Several task forces comprising of stakeholders and representatives of both the public and the private sector were established in all the work streams. These task forces were meant to support the full implementation of the project. Various representative agencies were also selected to participate in the strategic studies. These agencies were chosen to reflect all sectors in as wide as possible geographic areas. They were also established to integrate different types of procurement and categories within the public sector. These agencies also served as the measure of public confidence in the e-procurement system, where the public was served with sets of questionnaires to complete. Training was another basic activity that could not be avoided by any of the stakeholders.
Practically, there are many examples of successful businesses in Pakistan today, especially in the service and manufacturing sector, where the application of supply chain management has been efficient. This has contributed to their part for the firms to achieve strategic objectives through an improved measure of key performance indicators (KPI), like efficiency in procurement, maintenance of an operating working capital targets, stock turns, inventory management, and reduction in operation expenditure as well as a notable increase in profitability index (Gereffi, Fernandez-Stark, & Gereffi, 2010, p. 30). Supply chain management has become an integral part of daily business operations and shapes the strategic tools in large organizations and government institutions. This has made them to recognize its significance by taking additional measures such as restructuring the supply chain activities and even outsourcing their services.
The emergence of e-Procurement in Pakistan and Its Benefits
With the continued advancement in information technology and transformation of global business dynamics, the business world has discovered an easy way to access reliable electronic support services that are offered in the world with a balanced level of demand and supply. The government has benefited from e-commerce on many aspects. For instance, the government has complied with the international trade standards, reduction of stress, cutting the cost of administration, easy accessibility of services, and breaking of cultural and language barriers that have been highlighted as some of the major benefits of e-commerce (Gronlund & Flygare, 2011, p. 240).
E-procurement, which has been one of the major components of e-commerce, is still new in the industry, although many businesses have adopted it as a means of catching up with others in the industry. According to Cheema et al. (2010), the e-business paradigm creates an immense opportunity for the government and business firms to consolidate the buying process (p. 96). E-procurement has opened new horizons to manage and operate business, at the same time giving stakeholders various options to make the right decisions on the procurement process. Alternatively, the e-procurement process is predominantly carried out on a web-based exchange portal for the purpose of carrying out procurement activities, without having to involve the third parties, commission agencies, retailers or the trading company. This has enabled many businesses and the government to undertake procurement activities through a business to business and business to customer transaction basis.
Due to the increased significance in e-procurement services in the world, the demand of these services has risen, and there are now quite a number of examples portals with more reliable web-based services to facilitate e-procurement. One of such recognized e-commerce company is the Ali Baba Group of companies. These companies operate their web pages by a brand name known as Alibaba.com and were founded in Guangzhou in 1999. It is now among the leading company in e-commerce in terms of providing an array of online business solutions.
E-procurement also involves the purchase of temporary energy, labor, and vehicle leases among other services. Thus, the most crucial point in e-procurement is placing an order through the telephone, fax or email. These communication channels potentially enable the procurement process to unfold a faster and efficient method with fewer errors. Various companies involved in the process can also share the electronic data, interchange, perform online marketing or even blend the two services.
Generally, the e-procurement process entails the following services:
(i) E-information- this involves gathering, distributing and sharing of information both from outside or within the boundaries of the nation.
(ii) E-sourcing- this is the process of identifying new suppliers for particular category of procurement requirement using the information technology tools.
(iii) E-tendering- this is the process of sending requests electronically to enquire about the prices and the information and also receiving the response via the same channel.
(iv) E-ordering- this is the use of the Internet in order to facilitate the purchasing process.
(v) E-markets- these are places, where buyers and sellers meet and exchange goods and services.
(vi) E-intelligence- this is the process of investigation that assists buyers in detecting fraud before orders and payments are made. It is a tool that is mostly utilized by the internal audit committees to ensure a smooth operation in the procurement process.
Factors that anti-corruption agencies look for in e-procurement process in public offices:
1) Avoid unnecessary projects that are meant to wash away public revenue;
2) Ensure transparency in all projects planning in the public offices;
3) Avoid unnecessary tender documents in the tendering stage;
4) To ensure a smooth running of the bidding procedure;
5) The committee also ensures an increase in the tender competition in order to have the best bidder;
6) The e-procurement mechanism ensures a reduced level of human interaction to offset errors;
7) Monitoring contract execution for accountability and enhanced performance;
8) To perform audit function in order to have the most transparent and cooperative agency.
In conclusion, the presence of audit committee in the e-procurement process assisted by the anti-corruption board is to enhance control in the tendering process and reduce the levels of corruption in all stages. Reviewing the existing procurement process identifies the future and present needs of a sound procurement system. The Pakistan government required a procurement process that is more accountable and transparent (Blundo & Olivier, 2006, p. 47). However, different issues arise, such as the hidden procurement planning, poor need assessment, lack of capacity to monitor the process, political pressure and inconsistency in cost estimation that were the avenues for corruption in government tenders and, thus, the need for auditing the process.
Measurement of Public Trust on Implementation of Public Policies
The Asian barometer is an applied program that undertakes the public opinion on democracy, political values and governance across the Asian region. This survey network covers all political mechanisms in the region that have different trajectories of evolution and are on a different level of political transition at present. The issues tackled in this program range from country assessment of values to change in the democratic development.
Pakistan is widely known for its emerging market democracies as it is on the way to transform one of the world’s poorest economies to an economic powerhouse. It has undergone various political transformations from a military reign to a modern representative democracy. Governance is the formal and informal plans that determine how public decisions are made and the manner, in which public activities are carried on. Public administration is a crucial pillar in any government. The indicators of governance help in assessing and comparing national institutional qualities and the trust the public have in them (Box & Forde, 2007, p.17). Initially, these indicator indexes were used specifically in academics to analyze the economic growth and evaluate the public sector performance. Recently, these indicators are used to evaluate decisions in terms of the development assistance and measure the governance quality to a greater significance. However, different organizations and government sectors use different performance and trust indicators to assess their influence on public.
Despite lacking a concrete method of measuring the level of trust in government from the public, these indicators are exceptionally helpful in determining the level of progress and satisfaction of the members of the public. They also enable assessors to identify, when people start becoming disoriented and dissatisfied with the corporate activities of the government and the creeping in of corruption. Therefore, e-procurement and e-government policies only increase the trust in the custom offices, but do little in improving the trust towards the overall government.