Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu of the Ministry of Public Administration and Safety (MOPAS) discussed e-Government cooperation plans between Guyana with President Bharrat Jagdeo, who visited Korea to attend the Global Green Growth Summit on the 21st.
This unscheduled visit was carried out at President Jagdeo's request to attend an information session on the Korean e-Government's state of affairs.
Minister Maeng stated at the meeting that "Korea has become the first-ranking UN e-Government nation after only 10 years of e-Government, and is sharing this experience and know-how with nations all over the world. We will invite ministers and vice-ministers of Guyana to Korea and send professionals to establish an e-Government infrastructure there."
Meanwhile there have been a series of high official visits to MOPAS in the first half of this year. Starting with the minister of energy and e-Government of Brunei last February there have been 9 visits including officials from Brunei, Honduras, and Panama as well as the scheduled visit of the vice-minister of transportation and communications of Brunei on the 24th.
e-Government foreign exports has increased this year as well. Currently export performance is at $154 million, well over last year's report.
Korea's E-Government Steps out into the World
Everybody is talking about 'smart' lately. Apart from its lexical definition, smart has become the hottest keyword today since it is widely used for different industries and products such as smartphones, smart TVs, smart work, and smart management. The Korean government has also decided to keep up with the latest trend to evolve into a smart government. Having ranked first in the world in the UN Electronic Government Survey only after 10 years of initiation, the Korean government is planning to improve the quality of service and enhance the utilities of the electronic government, setting the standards as a world-class smart government. The recent announcement of Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) revealed that the Ministry will establish 500 smart work centers by 2015 to spur the use of electronic documents.
Foreign Officials Flock to Learn From e-Korea
Kim Nam-seok, Vice Minister of Public Administration and Security talked in an interview about Korea's plans to become a smart government that could, according to him, also help to increase productivity and solve many societal issues including a low birthrate, aging society, pollution, and the energy crisis. He claimed that after only a short time since it officially launched the electronic governance service, Korea has established a world class e-government. He emphasized that Korea ranked first in the 2010 UN E-Government Survey and that this has a historical significance for Korea, a country that has benefited from lots of international aid in the past.
Recently, many countries around the world became interested in Korean e-government and visited Korea to find answers to their own questions and issues. There have been a series of high official visits to MOPAS in the first half of this year alone. This year's visit started with the Minister of Energy and Electronic Governance of Brunei. Omar Yasmin visited Korea to meet with the Minister of Public Administration and Security, Maeng Hyung Kyu, where they discussed matters on e-government technologies, informatization towns, and integrated government data centers. MOPAS has organized three teams of consultation committees for the project, which consists of three meetings. It is a significant achievement for Korea to enter the Brunei e-government consultation market that has been dominated by Singapore until now. There have been 9 visits including a visit by Jose Anibal Sanz Jiminian, Secretary of State of the Metropolitan Transit Authority in the Dominican Republic, officials from Honduras, Panama and the scheduled visit of the vice-minister of transportation and communications of Brunei on the 24th.
Kim Nam-seok stated that the Korean e-government is setting standards for the rest of the world, and with more than 2,000 systems, it will help each country find solutions to the issues in building their e-government. Also, the experience and successful cases of Korean e-government will boost and improve the e-governance of many countries and consequently reduce the information gap in the world as well as prevent corruption by providing convenient and transparent administrative services. He envisions that Korea and the rest of the world will now be able to collaborate to solve global issues and develop together through e-government. According to Vice-minister Kim, E-government consultation is vital for Korea to cooperate and build close relationships with different governments and the Korean government is providing policy consulting as well for the countries who signed MOUs with Korea. In August 2009, for instance, Kuwait and Korea's IT Cooperation Committee (ITCC) agreed on Kuwait Informatization Policy Consulting - a total of 8 rounds for 24 months - and the two countries have met four times so far. The cost, including airfare is paid by the Kuwaiti government, while Korea's top experts offer consultation, especially focusing on information security, disaster recovery, and surveillance systems. Kuwait has previously received similar informatization consultation from countries such as Singapore and UK, but the government is highly satisfied with the expertise of Korean specialists, even asking for the Korean government to accept additional projects.
Vice-minister Kim continued in his interview that in the e-government industry, the first members to take the lead in the market tend to receive more orders in the future because of their technological know-how regarding system maintenance and so forth; and even small projects eventually expand to huge scale projects after numerous evolutions. He claimed that for these reasons, Korea will have a great advantage in the long run once it starts leading the overseas market and getting a foothold in foreign countries.
The e-government-related exports resulted in only US$ 9.87 million in 2007; but the number has nearly doubled annually for the last three years. And in 2010, thanks to ranking first in the UN survey, the exports recorded US$ 148.76 million, which was 223 percent higher than the previous year (US$ 66.7million). The government has set the plans to reach US$ 200 million with e-government exports this year and is currently working on various projects to expand the exports in a more systematic way. The Electronic Government Export Strategy Seminar held in February provided the opportunity for both private companies and government to share their strategies and experiences. The government tried to enhance the cooperative relationship with the private sector through discussions with CEOs of Korean IT companies that export e-government-related technologies, while opening a hot-line between the government and IT companies to facilitate overseas contracts. Furthermore, in March, the Korean government conducted an e-government training program - which will become an annual event starting next year - for the first time for senior members of the governments from developing countries. As the cooperation with the government is crucial for overseas e-government businesses, the Korean government is planning to improve the environment for Korean IT companies by means of MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with foreign governments, the IT Cooperation Committee, an Experts Meeting, and the Informatization ODA network, so that they can advance to overseas markets more easily.
MOPAS announced the Smart Government Plans last March in a bid to respond to recent changes in information technological environments with smartphones, tablet PCs, SNS, and cloud computing as well as to prepare for a future society, It is the government's plan to provide a wide range of mobile e-government services, which used to be limited to computers, and allow the public to customize them to their individual needs. In addition, there will be further applications of cutting-edge IT technologies to solving national issues including natural disasters and children's safety. The government will progressively evolve into a smart work system where people can work anywhere and anytime they want. MOPAS is planning to build 500 Smart Work Centers (50 public and 450 private) near residential areas and city centers across the country by 2015. After opening two Centers in Dobong and Bundang last year, in 2011, MOPAS will build eight new Centers in the metropolitan area so that public employees can access the service. Moreover, there are plans to find more jobs suitable for smart work, restructure the personnel system, and also enact 'Smart Work Promotion Act.' The Smart Government Plans will spur employee productivity and also contribute to solving diverse societal problems such as a low birthrate, an aging population, and pollution.
According to Vice-president Kim, there are two ways to internationally standardize the e-government system: to standardize through an international organization, and to standardize by taking over the vast majority of the market. He continued that the Korean system is well becoming the international standard in terms of the initial e-government system including procurement, taxation, and patents, but there are still difficulties in standardization via the domination of the overseas markets. Korea's e-government services are unique in a sense that it has developed the services customized for individuals on our own, which explains why the government does not pay for any multinational corporation package and it also owns the intellectual property rights for the system. To export the system to foreign countries, however, significant parts of it must be modified for the local environment or international standards, and Korean IT companies are losing price competitiveness as a result. For that reason, the e-government standard framework that can be used both in Korea and in overseas markets has been developed. The framework is a development support tool, which provides the common features essential for establishing information systems in advance and helps to save 20 to 30 percent of time or cost on development. Vice-minister Kim claimed that from now on, new e-government projects must utilize the standard framework and that MOPAS will actively assist in case a foreign government requests Korea's e-government standard framework.
Export Support Committee
In overseas e-government markets, Korean IT companies sell their product, i.e., the e-government system operated by Korean government, to foreign governments. So it is inevitable for the Korean government to establish close and cooperative relationship with domestic IT companies as well as with foreign governments in order for the Korean e-government system to advance into international markets. MOPAS is therefore trying to facilitate such cooperation. For instance, there were talks explaining the government's goals to export $200 million worth of e-government technologies to the related IT companies' CEOs last March. Also, the hot-lines to the relevant officials and experts will enable the companies to share project information and ask for government support at the right time. The Ministry will especially focus on cooperation projects with foreign governments and international organizations while supporting private companies for their own projects as well. Vice-minister Kim concluded that the government will enhance its role as a mediator so that Korean companies can avoid overheated competition in international markets.
IT Times is going to run a year-long series of articles on e-Government. Below is the year-long plan
June 2011: Interview with Kim Nam-seok, Vice Minister of Public Administration and Security (Published)
July 2011: Compatible Korean e-Government system favored by abroad
August 2011: Korea Customs Service: UNI-PASS, the world's first 100% electronic clearance system that provides one-stop PASS service
September 2011: Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)'s e-Patent system
October 2011: e-Procurement System that manages the whole process of bids & contracts electronically
November, 2011:Seoul City's open civil application system. This system opens the whole process of handling situations for civil affairs in real time
December, 2011: Local government office that provides e-government service through a TV in the Kangnam governmental office
January, 2012:: Republic of Korea's Ministry of Justice Immigration Service
February, 2012: Home tax System
March, 2012: National Computing & Information Agency, the world best government information data center. The total IT service agency of the digital government
April 2012: MOPAS, the governmental agency that generalizes e-Government information security policies and oversea support for e-Government
May 2012: A collection of articles on e-government by IT Times
June 2012: Publishing of entire series in a stand-alone book