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From hgrageda@dataserve.aim.edu.ph Wed Apr 18 17:37:30 2001
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 08:34:04 +0800
From: Henry Grageda
Reply-To: gkd@phoenix.edc.org
To: gkd@phoenix.edc.org
Subject: Re: [GKD] E-Governance in South/Developing Countries

Good day netizens,

As is the tendency of many people, and with the breadth of interpretations
that may be derived from the Net, I fear I may have cast an overly sweeping
and unflattering image of the country I am in right now (the Philippines),
particularly regarding corruption, and how e-governance may help fighting
it. My apologies to my countrymen and those who may have clear gains in
their initiatives here. My statements were, and are from a personal, though
still professional viewpoint, but cannot be taken as a representation of
the Institute’s position, nor a representation of the government as a
whole. As I said, it was launched to elicit thoughts, and in that area, it
was, I should say, quite successful. [***Henry’s message was posted
on 6 April, Mod.***]

The study I cited may be reviewed at http://www.tag.org.ph - which also
contains recent presentations on frameworks for fighting corruption, at
least in the Philippines, but I ’m sure may be relevant to policy makers in
many developing countries. Those of you who may be interested I believe,
will find the Philippines a fertile source of information on official
corruption and the best cases and worst pitfalls in fighting it. As is
said, the best way to fight it, is to study its innards, and I would
welcome efforts in joint research on this topic, as well as how ICT could
be positioned.

Having said that, in line with my more scientific training, I will note
that there are a number of cases that would also present breakthroughs in
this effort, of which I will cite two:
1) The City of Naga in the Bicol region: computerization and
professionalization of the civil service were implemented simultaneously -
one complementing the other - leading to unprecedented growth in what was
once one of the poorest provinces in the country. No doubt, the leadership
and political will of the mayor (allow me some drumbeating privileges as I
declare him as an alumnus of our Institute) helped to turn the tide. This
supports my stance that unilateral computerization efforts - without
mindset transformation - would be inutile against corruption and its more
menacing twin: ineptitude.
2) The City of Marikina, particularly its 5-minute response time to public
complaints, assisted by ICT by bridging civil society and local government,
and clearing the lines of responsibility of the local line agencies for
easy referral and ACTION.

Likewise of course, my statements come at the heels of a popular, bloodless
uprising that unseated an inept and corrupt President, largely assisted and
hastened by virtual mobilizations through e-mail and short message systems
by hand/mobile phones. On the other hand, ICT has been used as well for
intruding into private communications and transactions, as well as economic
sabotage through e-mail virus bombs. These, I think, reveals in part, both
the opportunity and threat of ICT in governance, and should be treated as
pragmatic and tested considerations in policy and program formulation.

Technology-enabling without clear accountability measures is like arming
the Leviathan-of-a-State with extra teeth and protecting it with armor
plates.

Henry




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