Government Develops a Korean e-Government Model
Cyber security has emerged as a matter of significant concern. The government is determined to substantially increase the portion of critical cyber security policies, establish a real-time DDoS response system, overhaul the current cyber security system, expand investment in this area, and create a cyber environment in which the public can safely use the Internet.
Back in June, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS), the government agency in charge of cyber security, observed the "22nd Information Culture Month." The Ministry cooperated with the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) in hosting various kinds of cyber security-related events during June. In early July, major government and mass media websites were paralyzed due to massive DDoS attacks. Although the targeted websites recovered, in the wake of these attacks, this form of cyberterrorism was a stark reminder to everybody how fragile the Internet infrastructure can be and the importance of cyber security.
New ICT Environment
“Rapid changes have recently occurred in the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) environment. As a result, an open and shared Web 2.0 environment has been gaining widespread appeal on a global scale; social networking has come into the limelight; and u-life has emerged as a new mode of living,” said Minister of Public Administration and Security Lee Dal-gon in a recent interview with the Korea IT Times.
With ubiquitous intelligence, convergence, and green growth emerging as the latest ICT trends, Korea, like other countries, is still in the early stages of introducing these latest trends. Nevertheless, it has been stated that Korea has already entered the fifth and last stage of the UN’s "Information Development and Management" model. The five stages of the UN’s model include 1) emergence of technologies, 2) enhanced information, 3) interactive information access, 4) transactional information management, and 5) connected and integrated information applications.
ICT in Public Services
There are various ways to apply new ICT technologies to the public services sector. The Korean government plans to make the most of mobile and ubiquitous technologies to help citizens lead pleasant and comfortable lives. The government also plans to step up efforts to prevent disasters and strengthen public security through the use of sensing and networking technologies. The government is also very determined to further improve the quality of people’s lives by enhancing its interactive communications based on social networking technologies, said Minister Lee.
ICT Trends in Major Foreign Countries
During the interview, Minister Lee commented on the ICT trends prevalent in other countries. First of all, he cited the example of the Obama administration in the United States, which plans to invest a total of US$30 billion earmarked for developing the broadband, u-health and smart grid sectors. In August, the US government disclosed a plan to introduce a storefront for providing cloud computing services to all public agencies by 2010. Meanwhile, the Office of Public Engagement has been set up as a unit of the White House to engage as many Americans as possible in coping with the changes that the new administration is embarking on in the United States..
The EU has worked out plans to apply green IT and ubiquitous technologies to all member states. In June, Japan announced a plan to introduce cloud computing to enhance the usability of its government’s computer resources by 2015. It has established the National Information Security Center (NISC) as the executing agency mandated to ensure information security. China opened Wuxi Software Park within Wuxi National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone in Jiangsu Province back in 2008 with the goal of developing computer resources by using cloud computing technologies.
Global Leader in e-Government
“Korea has been widely recognized by the international community as a global leader in e-government. The country ranked sixth among all countries of the world in the UN’s e-Government Readiness Survey in 2008. It finished second to Sweden out of a total of 154 countries in terms of ICT Development Index surveyed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU),” Minister Lee said.
Through various e-government programs, the Korean government has enhanced both the efficiency and transparency of its administration management and has significantly improved its administrative services. Since the introduction of the e-government system, the government has achieved a wide range of innovations in administration management, with about 850 government and public agencies linked to each other online.
All processes of government supply and procurement are handled online. State affairs are managed online in real time through Korea's own "Onnara" system which computerizes all policy-making, audit, and evaluation processes. For efficient and transparent administration management, the government has also introduced G4C (government for citizens) and G4B (government for business) online operating systems.
Minister Lee pledged to make certain that a safe living space is created with convenient systems, that the private market is stimulated, and related industries are fostered and developed. The minister will tackle these pledges by taking the initiative to create public demand for an RFID/USN (radio frequency identification/ubiquitous sensor network) system.
Commenting on the personal information protection bill the ministry is seeking to enact, Minister Lee said his ministry will make sure that related agencies do not collect unnecessary resident registration numbers of web users and will eventually replace such numbers with i-PINs (Internet personal identification numbers). The ministry will enhance the general public’s alertness against illegal obtaining or supplying of person information, he added.
More details on the Korea IT Times’ interview with Minister of Public Administration and Security Lee Dal-gon over the ministry’s e-government and u-public service programs follow below. During the interview, he discussed various issues, such as information technology trends and cyber security policies.
Q. What has the ministry achieved with regard to its plan to implement e-government programs as well as the ministry’s future policy direction? What problems has it faced during this process?
A. Korea has consistently implemented e-government servicessince the 1980s. As a result, Korea has succeeded in building one of the world’s top-rated ICT infrastructures and emerged as a global leader positively recognized by the international community. The country ranked sixth among all countries of the world in the UN’s e-Government Readiness Survey in 2008. It finished second to Sweden out of a total of 154 countries in terms of ICT Development Index surveyed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Nonetheless, some gaps still remains to be filled in terms of intergovernmental e-services and the people’s frequency of use of these services. In the process, dysfunction of informatization, such as the leakage of personal information and cyber attacks, has been aggravated. In order to resolve these problems, the ministry will implement e-government by shifting the focus from implementing policies to prudently utilizing the results of policy implementation; concentrating efforts on coping with the dysfunction of informatization; strengthening both public and private governance; and embodying e-government through both communications and convergence.
Q. How successful was your recent visit to Morocco?
A. It was a very successful visit as our Korean delegation visited Morocco from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1. The visit marked the first foreign country visited since the government adopted a new paradigm for international cooperation on informatization. In addition, a beachhead for exports of the Korean informatization model to North Africa was secured.
Speaking at the African Digital Opportunity Forum there, I reiterated the importance of strengthening ICT cooperation between Korea and African nations. Then, we exchanged with Morocco a memorandum of understanding on informatization cooperation. With regards to our discussions with the African Development Bank, we also agreed to carry out joint cooperation projects for the development of informatization in the African region.
Q. What is the ministry’s role in exporting e-government programs?
A. Despite Korea’s reputation as an e-government powerhouse, Korean IT companies exported just US$5.5 billion worth of software, a mere 0.6 percent of the total global software market volume (US$915.2 billion), in 2007. As you are probably aware, the Korean domestic information industry has reached its limit and saturation point, so its future will depend on how well Korea is able to find new growth opportunities in overseas markets.
To give active support to Korean IT companies in their efforts to make inroads into overseas markets, the ministry will try to lay the foundation for exchanges and cooperation with foreign countries, including concluding MOUs on informatization. The ministry will also establish a human network with leaders of the information industry in foreign nations by giving them support in setting up information access centers, training foreign IT experts and dispatching Internet volunteers to those nations.
The ministry will also cooperate closely with various agencies, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), as well as with private sector IT companies. Until now, the Korean-style informatization model has been exported or is planned to be exported to Kuwait, Vietnam and Morocco so far. Korea has already agreed with Kuwait to set up an IT cooperation center, and with Morocco to build an information access center there. It will conduct a feasibility studyfrom August to October, to set up a government data center in Vietnam later this year.
Q. It is important to maintain close cooperation among the industry, academia and the government to export the e-government programs. What ideas do you have in this regard?
A. IT firms have their limits in finding overseas markets. This is especially true for Korean IT firms which are not known as widely as Korean construction companies in Africa and the Middle East. I believe that Korea needs a strategy of seeking intergovernmental cooperation first, which will, in turn, help IT companies make inroads into ohter regiions of the world such as Africa, the Middle East or Central Asia.
The government should create a favorable environment for Korean IT firms to advance into overseas markets and cooperate with academia through international conferences or seminars to publicize the strengths and attributes of Korea’s e-government model. Then enterprises could make the most of the information provided by the government and academia in their efforts to win orders for foreign countries' informatization projects.
It’s necessary to revitalize the “e-Government Export Support Council,” which was launched in May and intensify strategic PR efforts by holding briefings on e-government policies and systems. The ministry plans on strengthening the human network by turning regional digital opportunity forums into global forums which will have broader appeal and relevance.
Q. What are policies for the implementation of u-public services using RFID/USN technology?
A. The ministry is trying to provide the general public with more convenient services by helping them make the most out of ubiquitous technologies. In the past, the ministry focused on providing services related to welfare, natural disasters, and traffic safety.
Currently, the ministry is providing u-care services for elderly shut-ins and u-services on weather and maritime information. In the future, it plans to provide u-eco services for a clean green environment, u-safety services to ensure a safety system against natural disasters, u-life services for a safe and wholesome living environment, intelligent u-infrastructure for enhanced social efficiency, and u-government for citizen-friendly administrative services.
Q. Would you please tell us about the government’s cyber security policies in order to cope with cyber attacks that were highlighted in the wake of DDoS attacks in early July?
A. The importance of cyber security has increased to a point that it affects not only most of the population, but also national security. Under these circumstances, the Korean government will dramatically increase the portion of information protection policies in preparation against any possible future cyber attacks.
The government will establish real-time DDoS response systems at major facilities, including energy agencies, this year. It will also train information protection experts and expand investment in this regard to create a trustworthy cyber environment in which citizens can use the Internet freely without any fear or concern.
Q. Are there any problems arising from Internet culture? If any, what policies is the ministry working out or implementing to solve them?
A. As a result of the spread of unidentified or unconfirmed anonymous information, the general public’s privacy has been severely undermined to serious proportions. An unwholesome information culture, including information gaps between those with full access to information and those with little or no access, juveniles’ addiction to the Internet, and the rampant circulation of pornographic programs, have become serious issues in society today.
To cope with these various problems, the government is strengthening its information governance initiative and working out various critical policies. The government has designated the month of June as Information Culture Month in an effort to wage a nationwide campaign to combat a bad information culture and create a wholesome information culture.
Q. Tell us about the personal information protection bill the ministry is going to enact. What is the policy direction to strengthen personal information protection?
A. From the recent leakage of personal information in such cases of Auction and GS Caltex for example, more than 10 million people suffered damage from these incidents. This reminded us how important the protection of personal information is. The government therefore is pushing for the legislation of a personal information protection law to strengthen people’s rights in this regard.
The ministry will make sure that agencies do not make it a practice to collect unnecessary resident registration numbers of web users and will eventually replace such numbers with i-PINs. It will also enhance everybody’s alertness against the illegal obtaining or supplying of person information
Q. Would you please explain to us the ministry’s plan to improve civil services?
A. The government is dedicated to improving basic civil services to minimize the general public's burden when they file petitions as they seek recourse or need various services from government offices. To simplify and streamline civil services, the ministry is seeking to minimize petition processes.
I'll give one such example, in the past, you had to submit seven different kinds of documents when applying for a passport in Korea. However, now you only have to submit one application form and then passport application process is complete. Last, but not least, the ministry is determined to substantially increase the kinds of civil services available online, from which citizens can request online. The total number of civil services will increase from the current 1,800 kinds to 4,000 by the end of 2010.
I expect that this will help those petitioning applicants visit government offices much less frequently, which will significantly contribute to helping the government better serve the people and at the same time help to realize the government’s “low carbon, green growth” vision at the same time.