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Electronic Government to Ease Baghdad's Paperwork
Source: kurdishglobe.net
Source Date: Saturday, December 25, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, Internet Governance
Country: Iraq
Created: Dec 27, 2010

Mohammad and several of his friends got their driving licenses using online application forms.

Sitting at a computer, Ammar Mohammad, 22, was surrounded friends as he showed them how to fill out an application form online. His friends were applying for drivers licenses. They were delighted to get the paperwork done quickly and easily using the electronic government system over the Internet that the Baghdad government is implementing.

"The system has become so much easier. We go to the website, find the form, fill it out and submit it by e-mail. Then, they send us a confirmation number and the date for the driving test. This is wonderful," Mohammad says happily.

Mohammad and several of his friends got their driving licenses using online application forms.

The Baghdad General Directorate of Traffic is one of many governmental institutions that recently started using the Internet to simplify paperwork. The system, called electronic government or e-government, saves time and effort, particularly in a heavily populated city like Baghdad.

Instead of waiting in long lines to apply the old way, now people can apply for driving license forms, get information about their cars (like news about stolen cars), receive violation warnings and other information by checking the Directorate of Traffic's website. It has thousands of visitors every day. People see it as a successful project for the directorate and hope other areas of government adopt similar systems.

People can now also get passport application forms and information on whether they've been accepted at Iraqi universities. They can also send complaints to the ministries and other government offices.

The main goal of this new system is to offer services in the easiest way, quickly and without complications, explains Dr. Raheem Abdul-Sahib, manager of the Digital Society Department at the Ministry of Sciences.

Also, "Electronic government can play a role in reducing corruption, as it changes the customary manual paperwork into an electronic operation with less human intervention," Abdul-Sahib said, noting that paperwork is more vulnerable to errors or bribery.

Ahmed Salih, 30, almost thought it was a joke when he received an e-mail giving him a confirmation number and a date to go to receive the passport he had applied for. "I couldn't believe it the first time," he said, adding that he found his information correct when visited the passport office. For him, this was a good experience compared with previous visits to the passport office. "The tiresome image of paperwork has changed to some extent, especially when I saw how well it worked," he commented. More importantly, he didn't have to pay "bribes this time."

As e-government becomes more popular, laws and instructions will need to be made to regulate the system, comments Abdul-Sahib. "Iraq could become among the top countries using electronic government in the coming 10 to 15 years. Around 50 percent of the infrastructure is currently set up for this system in Iraq."

Abdul-Sahib recommends raising awareness to let people know they can use this system for their convenience. The more people who use it, the more likely it is to succeed. Electronic government is not another branch of government, but simply a way for the government and people to interact over the Internet.

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