Every government must ensure that citizens access various services in an efficient manner that avoids delays and inconveniences. In this age, the focus has come out from the service provider to the customer, leading to the need for the identification of ways to bring satisfaction. Technological innovations have empowered citizens to demand for more transparency and accountability from their respective governments. The Federal Government of the United Arab Emirates established the Smart Government Program in May 2013, a program designed to be implemented in two phases. The evaluation of the program is crucial for various reasons. One of them is that will provide comprehensive information to the stakeholders and sponsors of the project on the effects, potential limitations, and the strengths of the program. Evaluation will be done in two parts, the first one seeking to find out process implementation and outcomes of the first phase of the program by looking at available progress reports. The second methodology entails the use of impact analysis to find out the public experience and the impact on them. Finally, the evaluation process will help the government to make improvements in the second implementation phase, which will improve the efficiency and reliability of the program. Therefore, the assessment process is essential for effective utilization of the program.
Effective and efficient service delivery by various governments to their citizens is the major challenge for the current and future generations. Every government must ensure that citizens access various services in an efficient manner that avoids delays and inconveniences. In this age, the focus has come out from the service provider to the customer, leading to the need for the identification of ways to bring satisfaction. Technological innovations have empowered citizens to demand for more transparency and accountability from their respective governments. A government that works towards better service delivery earns more approval from citizens as they are also empowered to access different public services and products. Another changing trend comes from the increasing younger generation that adopts the new technologies in the normal daily operations, necessitating the need for the adoption of technology in the normal operations of the governments.
There is rise in the number of governments that have adopted what is known as ‘smart government’ initiatives that involves adoption of technologies in order to enhance service delivery and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy in government services. Federal Government of UAE implemented a smart government program in 2013 in order to improve service delivery to its citizens. Many public services have been designed in a way that citizens that have access to them through various technological devices like smartphones, laptop computers and desktop computers. The UAE Smart Government program serves as a perfect example for other governments that have not though of such an initiative. However, the best way to have the clear impact of smart government initiative is have conduct an in-depth evaluation and analysis with a view of understanding its impact of service delivery and government operations. Therefore, this is a proposal for the evaluation of the effectiveness of this program since its establishment.
The current world is defined by the increased technological adoption by the public. The use of technology is seen in the adoption of smartphones and the internet in most of the day-to-day operations. In the Arab, nation’s broadband has become an important growth aspect of the ICT sector. Different governments have come up with sound broadband policies that have helped in the growth of business and faster growth of GDPs. Most importantly, mobile broadband has been an instrument used in the growth and access to the internet. On the same note, increased democratization and proliferation of the social media has helped in the strengthening of citizens’ voices. For these reasons, governments have opened themselves up to the citizens by providing services through transparency and accountability.
The Federal Government of the United Arab Emirates established the Smart Government Program in May 2013, a program designed to be implemented in two phases. The objective of the first stage is to provide a current and complete portfolio of the public services through modern technological devices and the Internet. The second one is the establishment of smart cities and smart services. The government emphasizes the application of mobile devices by public institutions to provide essential services to the public. Through the initiative, the UAE government launched the “Best m-Government Service Award” with the objective of motivating government institutions to provide innovative solutions via mobile websites, smart phone applications, and SMS. The Smart Government Program also aims to eliminate bureaucratic constraints that affect service delivery.
Furthermore, through the smart initiative, the UAE has launched the federal government network. The goal is to establish an integrated federal electronic network that offers information technology services at high speed through sophisticated infrastructure and in a secure environment. All federal institutions will be connected in a manner that minimizes costs and promotes efficiency. Additionally, the program will enhance the rapid shift to smart government. Another program that was launched through the Smart Government Initiative is the Grant, which is expected to enhance the social and economic status of the United Arab Emirates as well as that of Dubai. The launching of the programs will enhance citizens’ participation in government activities and enhance the performance of the public service.
Because of the implementation of the smart government initiative, the UAE government leadership is ensuring sustainable development in the region as well as in its cities. The government focuses on utilizing contemporary advancements in technology to deliver quality service to UAE visitors and residents. The government is also overcoming some of the major challenges such as communication restrictions, which often hinder effective delivery of services to the citizens.
The UAE smart government initiative has led to the formation of an open data portal where the public can access information for government services. Other than providing an avenue of accessing government services, the public also have an opportunity to interact and work towards improving government services by providing relevant information. Policy initiatives have enabled the government to come with technological platforms that ensure all citizens access services with convenience and transparency.
The evaluation of the program is crucial for various reasons. One of them is that will provide comprehensive information to the stakeholders and sponsors of the project on the effects, potential limitations, and the strengths of the program. Consequently, government officials are able to ascertain the impact of the program to the nation while identifying any problems or early corrections that can be made to prevent complications and inconsistencies later. The UAE Smart Government Program is no exception. The evaluation will enable the officials to prove its efficiency and reliability. Several variables of the program will be evaluated, and one of the components to consider will be its usability. By analyzing the usability and design of the program, the UAE government will have comprehensive information on the changes to make in the second phase of implementation. Additionally, the content of the smart government’s websites will be analyzed to ascertain its relevance to facilitate the delivery of quality services to the people.
The success of the second phase of the program relies on effectiveness of first one. The evaluation of the first phase will provide a framework upon which experts will draw important lessons on how to implement the program in the entire nation. It will also play the essential role of guaranteeing the development of better programs in the future. The need for additional programs stems from the fact that the attainment of a smart government’s objectives depends on accessibility and efficiency in the delivery of services. Thus, the evaluation of the functionality of the first phase will help to come up with suitable programs that meet the needs of the people.
Another importance of the evaluation is that it will help project managers to remain on schedule with the accomplishment of crucial tasks. Because the first phase is expected to be completed by May 2015, the assessment will provide essential information for the government to determine whether the progress is impressive. The findings will also serve as the basis upon which the stakeholders will set timelines for completing activities in the second phase. However, regulatory bodies will be required to ascertain that the objectives of the program have been met in the first phase before commencing the second phase. For instance, if a website was to be used as a policing tool, the evaluation will allow the agencies to confirm that it can offer services as expected. The primary reason for the assessment is to ensure that the system does not fail in the future.
Moreover, complying with specific standards can be determined through the evaluation process. Since members of the public are the greatest stakeholders of the program, the evaluation process will help the government to ensure that its use does not violate the rights and freedoms of the population. For instance, the content on the websites should not reveal people‘s confidential data such as residential areas, contacts, or financial details. The outcome of the assessment will be used as a guide for the government to make the program more interactive without subjecting users to ay risks.
Evaluation will be done in two parts, the first one seeking to find out process implementation and outcomes of the first phase of the program by looking at available progress reports. The second methodology entails the use of impact analysis to find out the public experience and the impact on them. Below is the detailed information of the evaluation methodology to be used:
Process Evaluation/Implementation Assessment
Process evaluation entails gathering and making an analysis of the information to find out how a specific program is effective and to make a judgment on the need of such a program. Process evaluation is important because it gives information on the condition and the impact of an ongoing program. The outcome of process evaluation helps in the determination of ways that a program adopts to the specific function. UAE smart government coordinators and policy makers can best make choices on the way forward on the program after a thorough process evaluation. Note that the second phase of the project should begin from May 2015, something that should be done after assessing the first phase and finding its impact on service delivery. Process evaluation and assessment is important in finding out whether UAE smart government initiatives are serving the intended purpose. It is important to note that process evaluation does not work to find out whether a program has achieved the intended purpose. Outcome evaluation helps in achieving the intended purpose.
Therefore, the evaluation process will assess the role of the program’s stakeholders to determine if their services are essential to the public. The first step in the assessment will be to evaluate the achieved success of the project. The main area of concern will be determining whether the program performs the functions that it was designed for. Similarly, the evaluation will assess the quality of the program and its ability to deliver results in time. Quality variables will be measured based on the ability to meet standardization specifications, which offer a reliable framework upon which the performance of a system can be determined. Other processes that are linked to the program will also be reviewed to ascertain that they are meeting the needs of individuals.
Process evaluation and assessment will be conducted in four major steps. The first step will entail determination of how the UAE smart government program was intended to be implemented and to operate from the onset. The second step will entail identification of the program was actually implemented and operates, followed by the analysis of the available data on the actual operation of the system. An analysis will then be done in order to make recommendations and then communicate the same to relevant authorities.
In order to find out the intended implementation and functioning of the program, evaluation will entail establishing the actual recipients for the program under investigation. Accessing the program will also be another thing to be established, including the deliberate measures put in place to enhance access by the citizens. This first process will also entail identifying some of the expected impediments to the implementation and how they were to be overcome. Collection of data for the intended implementation and functioning of the program will be done using some of the methods that are used to find the outcome of a program. For the UAE smart government program, interviews with experts who developed the program and other shareholders will be done. In addition, design documents will be of great value in an attempt to find out how the program was intended to function.
Step 2 will evaluate actual UAE smart program implementation and the actual operation. This step can only be logical after an assessment of how the program was intended because such an assessment ensures that the evaluation of the actual operation is done from an informed point of view. Data collection method at this stage will be done carefully to avoid too many, irrelevant and expensive methods and indicators. Stakeholder interviews will play an important role into this evaluation because they are the people who oversee day-to-day operations of the program. These interviews will use the same questions to help develop structured answers that can be analyzed in the same manner. Other methods will include analysis of the contents within the different programs, monitoring the processes, surveys and observation of the processes.
The third step will entail conducting and in-depth analysis of the findings. The analysis will seek to make a description of how the program actually operates. This will identify participants and non-participants in a program, services provided and the outputs of each program component and the perception of each program. A comparison of the implemented program across different platforms and areas will help in appreciating diversity of the program. Another component of this analysis will seek to find the conformity of the program to the intended function. This means that will be need to find out whether the implemented program actually performed its functions and why a program did not function as intended. Finally, the recommendations will be made in order to communicate the same to the relevant authorities.
This process evaluation/implementation assessment will ensure to ensure that the implementation and the process followed were per the standards, and regulations. In addition, it will ensure the robustness and the read of the smart infrastructure for phase two.
Below is the Logic Model (Inputs, Activities, Outputs, Outcomes/Impacts) for the process evaluation/implementation assessment:
what resources go into a program
what activities the program undertakes
what is produced through those activities
the changes or benefits that result from the program
Establish Smart Government Committee
Specialized teams in the federal and local government entities
Each entity allocated a budget to the program.
IT consultancy companies / private sector
IT standard and regulations
1. Establishing the committee and teams
2. Federal/local level workshops
Partnership with the private sector
3. Each entity started projects
4. Each entity published its smart services portfolio
5. Progress and outputs monitored by the committee
Smart public services
Improve the public satisfaction for public services
Improve the quality of services provided by the government
Create a foundation and environment for phase 2
Impact analysis helps in evaluation of the actual outcome of the implemented program. This analysis part will help to find out whether the program served its purpose as per the intention. Impact is important because it helps find out the actual situation between the recipients and the program. Any changes to be made in the second phase of the program implementation will only be made after conducting an impact analysis on the current state of the program. One important aspect that this stage of analysis does is that it will seek to find out the public usage of the smart government through surveys. Awareness will another indicator that will determine the public has embraced the program and is ready to use it to access the government services. Outcomes of the program are tied to the awareness and embrace by the UAE public.
The main outcomes and point to measure on the impact analysis will be to ensure that the smart services by the UAE government achieve the intended quality. There would be no need to have a program that does not meet the intended functionality. Impact analysis will help in ascertaining whether the program has achieved the quality and functionality intended at the planning stage. The second measure would be to find out whether the public were aware of the program and whether those who were aware of the same were using it. Public awareness is a prerequisite of the usage of a program; therefore, a survey will be conducted to help find out public awareness and usage of the same.
Another measure for the analysis will be to find out satisfaction of the UAE public by the program. Awareness of the program may not mean usage and usage may not mean satisfaction. The questionnaire and the survey will seek to find out whether those who embraced the smart services by the government were satisfied. Program satisfaction has many components, some of which will be identified and used in the impact analysis to get the correct information.
Besides, the roles of stakeholders, the views of the public on the functions of the program equally form an essential part of the evaluation process. Using questionnaire surveys and group interviews, the evaluation team will be able to gather people’s opinions on the ability of the system to meet their needs. Additionally, the assessment will determine whether public awareness on the availability of the program’s services was effective. The individuals’ feedback will help in the identification of any loopholes or weaknesses in the system.
Data collection for the impact analysis must be done in a careful manner to avoid unnecessary inconveniences and costs. UAE is large geographical territory that requires careful choice of data collection in order to acquire enough information without incurring much cost. It would be inappropriate to conduct face-to-face interviews for this evaluation because of the logistical as well as financial implications. Therefore, evaluation experts will draft and fine-tune a questionnaire in order to cover all the aspects of the process. The questionnaire will be divided into two sections, the first section focusing on the readiness and awareness of the UAE citizens for the government smart services. The second section will focus on the actual experience of the program.
The first part of the questionnaire on awareness and readiness of the citizens will seek to find accessibility to different e-devices like the internet, computers, mobile phone and televisions. On the same note, this part of the questionnaire will also focus on the awareness of the different smart government initiatives and the public ability to use them. Profile of the respondents will be also be collected, which will be age, income, profession, education, location and gender. The second part of the questionnaire will be sought to find out the awareness and interaction of the questions stated in the first part.
On specific smart government initiatives, the questionnaire will seek to get feedback from the citizens on different aspects like IT awareness, knowledge of the government services that can be accessed through e-platforms and their perception of these services. This part of the questionnaire will have certain statements that will require ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers. In answering these statements, a ‘Yes’ will have a score of ‘1’ while ‘No’ will have a score of ‘0’. Another part will also contain positive and negative statements that will require scoring procedure in terms of marks accordingly. For instance, 5 marks will be for I strongly agree, 4 for I agree, 3 for I can’t say, 2 for I disagree, 1 for I strongly disagree. The negative statements will be answered with a score as the positive statements noted above, but on the opposite. For instance, 1 for I strongly agree, 2 for I agree, 3 for I can’t say, 4 for I disagree, and 5 for I strongly disagree. The higher the score, the higher will the perception of the initiatives.
The Smart Government Program by the UAE government is expected to foster accountability, reduce bureaucracy, and enhance service delivery. However, the goals can only be achieved if the evaluation process is capable of identifying the gaps in the process of implementation as well design of the program. The assessment will prove to the public that the government’s initiative will serve their needs and improve delivery of services. Additionally, the evaluation will ensure that the project adheres to the standards of the development of system that provide essential services to the people. The findings will assure individuals that the government is not intending to publicize their confidential information or use for undisposed purposes. Finally, the evaluation process will help the government to make improvements in the second implementation phase, which will improve the efficiency and reliability of the program. Therefore, the assessment process is essential for effective utilization of the program.