As a developing country, Sri Lanka, too, has been adopting to a unique e-Government programme, which is quite different to many other countries in the region.
This article discusses an extension of a research study in Sri Lanka carried out by the same authors almost two years ago. In that study, the authors evaluated the e-Government model, adopted by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) with its e-Sri Lanka Re-engineering Government programme. It evaluated its strengths and weaknesses by analysing factors that influence e-Government projects currently being implemented. The factor analysis was based on a proposed model (Wackwella Gamage Analysis Model) that was formulated with special consideration placed on incorporating the e-Government implementation characteristics unique to Sri Lanka. Based on this factor analysis, appropriate recommendations were then proposed to enhance and strengthen the Sri Lankan e-Government model by considering all social/cultural/economical/technical aspects pertaining to Sri Lanka. Subsequent to the original research study, both authors were able to further study the actual implementation of the e-Sri Lanka Re-engineering Government programme in detail, as members of the technology team at the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka.
Based on these observations, this article further enhances the Wackwella Gamage Analysis Model discussion into several important aspects particularly from a technical implementation perspective. This discussion is particularly important considering the current stage of e-Government implementation in Sri Lanka since the original study was completed during the early stages of the e-Sri Lanka Re-engineering Government programme implementation. This article significantly emphasises aspects such as interoperability, architectural integration, procurement aspects, policy and legal infrastructure as well as a discussion of the impact of innovations introduced by ICTA in these aspects. With its discussion of the technical perspective extensions based on the application of the Wackwella Gamage Analysis Model on the e-Government implementation programme in Sri Lanka, this article provides the reader with an up-to-date understanding of an interesting case study – the e-Sri Lanka Re-engineering Government programme implemented by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA).
According to the World Bank (2005) definition, e-Government refers to the use of information technologies by government organisations, which have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of the government. Since the advent of the World Wide Web, the global business environment itself has gone through a lot of changes, notably in the Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to--Consumer (B2C) sectors. To follow the same trend, national governments, too, slowly started to adapt Internet and related technologies in their organisations. These sectors are mainly centered on critical dynamics between different bodies within society, such as government, citizens and businesses. Though it gives numerous benefits to the public, most national government entities face numerous challenges while implementing e-Government applications (Davidson, Wagner, and Ma 2005).
Sri Lanka e-Government readiness index figures have been lying even below the world average for last few years (See Appendix 1, Figure 1). In order to reverse this unimpressive trend, the Sri Lankan Government in 2002 initiated the Re-engineering Government programme under the e-Sri Lanka Road map (Hanna, 2007). The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) was appointed as the main regulatory body to implement this programme under the guidance of the Presidential Secretariat. This road map consists of two phases. Currently, the first phase is being implemented and the second phase will be finalised after evaluating the phase one deliverables (World
Bank, 2004). Generally, any country that implements e-Government projects should follow a well established localised e-Government model to achieve better results. Sri Lanka, too, has been following an e-Government model under the ICTA Reengineering Government programme for the last five years (ICTA, 2004). Thus, it was important to see whether this
e-Government model is fully adapted to the local context.
In 2007, authors were able to critically analyse the e-Sri Lanka Re-engineering Government programme based on the factor model (WGFAM) proposed. This model discusses 30 different factors categorised into five main areas.
- Organisational Factors
- Environmental Factors
- Technology Factors
- Support Factors
- Financial Factors
Among these, authors have given more emphasis to the technological and procurement related factors, since they showed a substantial amount of progress during last two years. Other factors are discussed briefly in order to make this a complete analysis.
Technology Factor Analysis
Since 2002, Re-engineering Govern- ment programme gave a significant emphasis to improve the government IT infrastructure by implementing various projects. The Lanka Government Network (LGN) and the Lanka Gate are the main projects among them.
Lanka Government Network
According to the initial plan consisting of 3 phases, it was able to cover the target of 325 locations in Phase 1 and planning to cover another 150 in Phase 2. LGN is a highly secured, reliable infrastructure backbone that connects all government organisations to provide Internet,
email and Internet Protocol (IP) based voice services.
In addition, this also provides,
- Secure communication network among government organisations in Sri Lanka
- Centralised control and management of the network
- Centrally managed internet access
- Centrally managed secure email system
- Broadband connectivity to create an IP backbone
- Open interoperability standards; This will enable to ensure interoperability between systems regardless of their platform, technology or vendor
- Multilingual support by adopting ICTA approved Unicode fonts for local languages and should be supported by the trilingual keyboard (to support Sinhala and Tamil)
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) activity to trusted users to access the government network
- Centralised help desk facility to LGN users
After stabilising the physical network infrastructure to all government departments through LGN, during last two years ICTA was able to reach great heights by launching its flagship software infrastructure called Lanka Gate. This ever flexible infrastructure is based on the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) framework, which basically is built on to plug any e-Service to it. By having this feature, it can extend this infrastructure not only to government organisations, but to any of its stakeholders such as citizens, businesses. (See Figure 2)
All these e-Services can be accessed via a common web portal named as the “Country Portal”. Any Sri Lankan citizen can log into this portal and access any of the government e-Services hosted. In addition to that, any of these e-Services can be extended to represent more than one government department as well. All these transactions are secured with Message level (i.e. WSSecurity) and Transport Level security. All the government e-Services can be authenticated using the LGN CA (Certification Authority), which is owned and managed by ICTA. By having its own Certification Authority ensures a secure governance in future without having to depend on a third party CA.
Subsequently, in order to provide Internet and Mobile payment facilities, Lanka Gate infrastructure is envisioned to have two more main components called CCPGP (Credit Card Payment Proxy) and the MPG (Mobile Payment Gateway). The CCPGP is designed to function as a proxy for existing Internet Payment Gateways available in Sri Lanka. The MPG is designed to provide an open architecture to support mobile payments with SMS, WAP and IVR facilities.
Virtual Business Transformation (VBT)
Having the luxury of a stable network and a software infrastructure has enabled ICTA to move ahead with many more e-Government projects. These projects mostly will be launched as “Quick Wins” with ICTA owned “Virtual Business Transformation” (VBT) concept. Here ICTA has decided not to transform all eGovernment projects as a complete BPR (Business Process Re-engineering). VBT enables to carry out a high-level business process study upfront and connect them to Lanka Gate architecture as a “Quick Win”. That would enable citizens to use many services at a record quick time rather than doing a complete BPR for each and every government system around.
This is more of an “agile” method allowing more citizen interactions to government services. e-Services will be targeted, initially for government organizations with reasonable software and hardware readiness. The identified organisations will work with ICTA to virtualise their business processes and optimise the information and service flow between citizen and organisation. Essentially a Business Process Mapping Language (BPML) should be used to detail out the current business process changes and to map and align the new business process with proposed
SOA Governance Framework
SOA is the backbone of the Lanka Gate providing loosely coupled decentralised services with a centralised control structure. Ideally it should be loosely coupled but tightly managed. Therefore, it is essential to have a framework to govern its operations in order to maintain its sustainability in the long run.
Therefore, ICTA is in the process of formulating this important framework mainly to fulfill the following needs,
- To formulate procedures in order to maintain new e-Services
- Performance monitoring
- Monitoring and management of deployed eServices
- To manage security issues
- To manage Service Level Agreements (SLAs) etc.
Lack of compatibility among
e-Government systems can be a failure when it comes to sharing data among them. Hence, it is essential to implement an e-Government framework, which will support the compatibility among
e-Government systems. This is called the interoperability framework.
Therefore, Lanka Interoperability Framework (LIFe) is getting formulated to provide guidelines for different government organisations to standardise the data architecture and data exchange. However, still this has been limited only to Personal Data domain.
The rest of the identified domains are now being formulated and still in the review process. Though, this was not a major concern for the moment, once the Lanka Gate and other related
e-Services are in action, this will be a critical aspect in data communication between different domains.
Therefore, it is the ICTAs primary responsibility to get this finalised before it is too late.
Organisational Factor Analysis
Vision and Strategy
It is paramount to have a clear vision in order to be successful in e-Government projects. As authors suggested in their initial paper, during last two-three years, Re-engineering Government project speare headed by its flagship Lanka Gate project, gave the direction to have more “Quick Wins” along with other major projects in the road map. Along with major projects such as e-Revenue Licence project, there are quite a number of “Quick Win” projects under its VBT concept. For example, under Lanka Gate – Country Portal project, ICTA envisioned to launch quick win projects like Railway Schedule Inquiry, Examination Results Inquiry, EPF/ ETF balance inquiry, Motor Traffic Registration inquiry, etc.
Most of the e-Government projects undertaken by ICTA were comparatively large projects and needed a substantial amount time to complete. Therefore, ICTA opted to develop those systems closer to the traditional “Water Fall” approach. Most of the time a complete BPR was done prior to the development. When it comes to the project software development, ICTA didn’t have much control over the project mainly because it did not have the technical strength to support initially. Therefore, most of the projects took substantial amount of time to make a real progress.
In order to overcome these project delays, ICTA devised a new software development approach called “Software Development Services Approach (SDSA)” with following key aspects in mind. (See Figure 5)
An initial high level system study is needed to define the overall architecture of the project.
Depending on this initial study and the devised high level architecture, the ICTA technical staff breaks the total architecture into several “key components” mainly depending on their complexities and interdependencies.
If possible “A thin slice prototype” is implemented to validate related technologies. This would eliminate any technical challenge or any architectural gap up front.
After identifying and testing the high level architectural components, it is quite easy to procure them separately as several individual contracts. This enables to complete any identified component/ module parallel to other components identified in the architecture.
Once all these components are completed, a separate contract can be offered depending on the complexity of the integration or it can be integrated utilising the ICTA technical staff.
Finally, all the technical deliverables from the vendor need to be reviewed and signed off by the ICTA architecture team.
This approach effectively harnesses agile and iterative software development industry best practices within standard procurement guidelines whilst leveraging upon the cost--effective, highly successful and specialized outsourced software development services industry.
For example, the Lanka Gate project followed this SDSA methodology and procured all its components simultaneously for several vendors. By applying this, the project was able to complete its key components within a very short time (four months). In addition to that, the continuous review process paved the way for a successful completion without any last minute surprises.
There are several steps have been taken to improve the organisational leadership among government CIOs (Chief Innovation Officers). During last few years, ICTA organised several programmes such as e-Champion knowledge sharing sessions via video conferencing with the collaboration of World Bank, Study tours to countries like Estonia, which has a much sophisticated eGovernment structure and most importantly the initiation of the MBA in e-Governance programme. Each year ICTA selects most eligible CIOs with the collaboration of University Of Moratuwa to conduct this very important course, which directs them to know almost all the aspects of e-Government.
Subsequently, ICTA has also taken steps to form the “National Administrative Reforms Committee (NARC)” to resolve any delaying issues related to its respective organizations. Now CIOs slowly leverage this concept to inform their grievances to this committee. However, as suggested by authors in their initial paper, still the “Inter ministerial committee” though it was again accepted by the cabinet early this year, has not off taken totally.
Environmental Factor Analysis
National e-Government Policy
The government ICT Policy should be implemented without any further delays. The government was not able to approve the drafted ICT policy by the cabinet for years due to various reasons. Adhering to the ICT Policy will allow government organizations to follow some strict guidelines from the beginning itself. Otherwise complications will arise after a few years time. For example, the use of pirated software within government departments can take place if there is no enforcement/ policy directive from the government. The policy may not be able to control issues 100%
but will certainly improve the standards and the management of ICT within organistions.
The Legal Infrastructure
While other technical developments are going on, the importance of ensuring parallel developments in the legal framework is essential. Fortunately ICTA strengthened its efforts by commencing the building of a legal framework for ICT development in Sri Lanka, by extending a generic global standard like United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). With this, during last few years ICTA was able to enact a few ICT laws such as Electronic Transaction Act, Computer Crime Act (ICTA, 2007). In addition to that, now ICTA is in the process of legalizing the Credit Card payment transactions within government organistions. This will be instrumental to use credit card within the Lank Gate infrastructure and will further helpful to regulate mobile payment transactions as well.
Financial/ Support Factor Analysis
At the moment ICTA reengineering government programmes mostly relying on the World Bank funds until end of 2011 with its two year extension. For some reason, if World Bank does not fund for the next phase, the government should have an alternative plan to take up the challenge to the next phase. Creating Public Private Partnerships (PPP) can also be proposed as one more financially feasible source that Sri Lanka should look at. The private company can invest in an e-Government project and can own, manage and maintain for an agreed period. Further it can gain from the investment through fees. After the agreed time, the private company should transfer ownership and operations to the government. \\
SHAHANI MARKUS WEERAWARANA
Crishantha Nanayakkara holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Computing and Information Systems from University Of London and a MBA in Information Technology from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. Crishantha has nearly 14 years of professional experience mainly in design and implementation of enterprise software applications. He is currently working at ICTA of Sri Lanka as a Senior Technologist, providing technical consultation to key e-Government projects.
Dr. Shahani Markus Weerawarana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Sciences & Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.Previously, she was the Chief Technology Officer at the ICT Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka. Prior to that, she was the Head of Engineering at Virtusa (Sri Lanka), which is a global software services provider with centers in USA, UK, India and Sri Lanka.
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