E-government Initiatives of Four Philippine Cities

Gabrielle Iglesias
JEL codes: 
PIDS Discussion Paper Series

This study intends to provide a snapshot of the city government (in a developing country) as it uses information and communication technology (ICT) to transform its public service delivery and promote good urban governance. The volume of work related to services provided by local governments could be made more efficient, effective, transparent, accountable and equitable using relevant technologies. In the Philippines, a Government Information Systems Plan (GISP) was approved and adopted as framework for all computerization efforts of key services and operations. This study used as case study samples four city governments (Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Antipolo, and Tagaytay) known to actively use ICT applications to determine: (1) the level of use of ICT, and (2) how their computerization efforts facilitate good urban governance. The e-governance framework used for this study has a phased ICT utilization wherein a government agency must first use ICT to improve its internal operations (e-administration), then its public service delivery (e- government), before finally being able to use ICT to improve its relationship with its constituents (e-governance). The study was based on: (1) direct observations of their systems, (2) a review of their web sites, and (3) interviews with key officials whose positions corresponded to or were closest to a Chief Information Officer. The data was gathered from November 2003 to February 2004. Observations were finally assigned scores (using scales for each item), and analyzed along various components of e-governance. The results show two approaches among the cities in their development of ICT applications (1) Muntinlupa City was doing a pull to e-governance by emphasizing its web site rather than internal administrative applications, while the other three were doing a push towards e-government by developing specific administrative applications that are not immediately accessible via the
Internet. No strong pattern can be detected among the four cities, but this can be expected since there was no common framework for their decisions to use ICT. All of the cities are concentrating on e-administration efforts. The city governments cited ICT for contributing to accuracy of records, increases in tax collection and other income, and improvements in efficiency, accountability, and transparency. Factors that may slow down ICT use for providing public service are the reported high costs to preparing a transactional website, and personnel issues over acquiring skilled employees and reducing staff turnover. Policy recommendations are: (1) emphasizing e-administration rather than website development to ensure that organizational processes exist to support public service delivery over the Internet; (2) city governments should develop their information policy; and (3) institute a system for identifying, anticipating and preventing problems and failures in local ICT investments.