China needs to centralize e-government efforts

China needs to centralize the management of national e-government programs for better oversight, according to Chen Fuxiao, vice chairman of the China Informatization Alliance and an e-government specialist.

Currently, there is no centralized authority responsible for the huge investments being made in e-government or to review and appraise those e-government projects that have been completed, Chen said, speaking at the recent China Computerworld CEO & CIO Summit in Beijing.

The State Development and Reform Commission has so far spent 50 billion renminbi (US$6.19 billion as of Dec. 5) on e-government projects, Chen said. “What is the result of having invested so much?” he asked.

Chen said network construction is one e-government component that lacks effective cost controls. Construction of the networks needed for e-government projects has been handled separately from plans for the e-government applications themselves. As a result, the construction of these networks has sometimes resulted in a competition to employ the most advanced networking technology available, Chen said. “Our networks are now even better than those in U.S.,” he said.

This contributes to high costs and can result in unsatisfactory results, leading some in the public to question e-government programs, Chen said.

To be successful, e-government projects should enhance administration efficiency, lower costs, and improve services for the general public, Chen said. The technology employed for these projects should be determined by the nature of the application. All e-government investments must produce a return, anything less than this may have a negative impact on the country’s development, Chen said.

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