June 23 marked the day when the whole world found out how advanced Korea's IT was. The Korean government had the honor of winning the 'Global e-Government System 2010' award at the 2010 United Nations Public Service Day, which was held at the AXA Convention Center in Barcelona, Spain for 3 days. It was another outstanding accomplishment the nation achieved after it was ranked first on the 'development of e-government index' and the 'online participation index' earlier this year.
Now Korea is positioned to be a hub nation of e-government. In this moment when Korea indeed takes on an important role as a model for many other countries, Korea IT Times interviewed Kang Jung-hyup, Assistant Minister of Informatization Strategy Office in the Ministry of Public Administration and Security to have a conversation about information system and the current challenges Korea faces.
Assistant Minister Kang explained that the Korean e-government system is the e-systematization of all the government affairs. He said, "The UN specified e-government as a process with 4 steps. Currently, there are only five countries including Korea that have entered the 4th step." He continued by saying, "The tasks of the central government can be divided into 1,100 kinds in the medium category and 40,000 kinds by sub-category. All these tasks are systemized. This means it has a complete base for integration and connection between services and the ability to create a 3rd government system service."
It is known that the e-government award is highly perceived by the UN. Earning this award shows that the system was actively used by people and provides easy access for all its users.
In addition, Kang described it by saying, "Our system is like reading a book. It is well organized and the only thing we have to do is read it and study it."
Kang concluded by saying, "You need to catch a chance when the opportunity is given. Since we are respected by the UN right now, now is the best time to develop national information system and enhance international cooperation."
Following is a series of questions and answers with Kang Jung-hyup.
Q: What is a national information system and tell us about the features and advantages
A: Generally, e-government, or the 'computerization of administrative systems' in other words, has reached the point that one click takes care of everything through the internal affair connection. For instance, in the past when you changed your residence, you needed to undergo 17 different notification procedures such as address, banking, cars and many others. Nowadays, you can use address transfer which will complete all the other procedures automatically. With this development, city halls and ward offices are able to perform administrative tasks much more efficiently than before.
Q: What is the present status of development work related to standard common components of e-government
A: To structure the informational system, we practically need a methodology for development. The large enterprises such as Samsung and LG have their own methodologies, but the rest of the SME's (Small & Medium Enterprises) generally don't have one. When you construct the governmental affair system, a standard system is certainly needed. The standard systems which are developed in levels of government are intellectual products. Since they are intellectual products, the update is achieved annually. SME and large enterprises use the system developed by us and we receive good responses from them.
'Common component' could be explained as the componentization of the common tasks in government ministries. At the moment, there are 219 tasks that are organized as the common component. However, the common component flexibly changes over time. Personnel management types can not avoid these changes because the social organizations started emphasizing collaboration. This is unlike the past, when they used a vertical organizational structure.
Q: Tell us about the policy's directions to develop e-government between nations and enterprises as an export power.
A: To export our outstanding system to other nations, we need cooperation between countries. We also should strive for export with the brand value, which was winning the UN e-government award.
With the start of national interchange overseas, there are particular areas who want to share the technology including Southeast Asia, Latin America, CIS, South Africa and the Middle East. Countries in these areas would like to benchmark our system, and we should help them by forming a cooperative relationship in telecommunications with these countries.
So far, the Korean government has built the 'International IT Cooperation Center' in 6 nations and has been participating in various businesses including consulting.
The Korean government has signed a MOU agreement with 20 countries. The Korean government steadily cooperates with other countries such as Bulgaria, Kuwait and Rwanda in this year alone.
Like so, if the government paves the way for these systems, the consulting work will be efficiently completed by domestic IT and SI industries and telecom companies. Besides that, we provide an one week educational program for foreign interested parties free of charge.
Q; Lastly, what topic do you place an emphasis this year
A: Most of all, we are focusing on the package of software and structuring of archives. As it is impossible for each company to operate due to it's high cost, it is imperative to structure the archives so that everyone can use it. The shift of the information paradigm should be noted as well. As the paradigm changes, the daily life changes as well. Smart workers have been increased by the spread of smartphones and the development of mobile internet. Accordingly, the situational change and the change of government business is inevitable.
Additionally, internet addiction needs appropriate measures as it still remains to be one of the biggest problems in our society. We will try to make plans to make a brighter internet world and focus on the marginalized people in information technology. Finally, we will strive to pass the Personal Data Protection Act within this year to resolve the leaked personal information problem.