Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Improving governance:increasing government contact through social media

Times have changed.There was a time when transfer of phone set from one room to the other was illegal.Fax was illegal,as late as 1980's.Most government departments have websites although with varying levels of output and communication efficiency.

Governments now have terrific communication tool available in the form of social media.Increasingly ,government departments in Pakistan are putting themselves on face book,although this trend is in an initial stage.Only a decade ago , bringing about this level of communication by governments on their own would have cost millions of dollars.Governments (federal and provincial) ought to develop a communication policy on the utilization of social media,with a view to encourage the use of social and other internet media such as blogs,chatting desk(Information Desk).

A lot of time of people could be saved in travelling to the government offices and departments for finding information on various matters.For one small issue,one has to visit several departments and locations some times.Case processing could be put on the web as Courier companies have done.As one can know from the website of a courier company,as to where one's posted item is at a particular moment,similar could be the case with,NIC cards, passport,driving license,taxation etc.Chatting could supplement information desks,for the latter one has to travel to the location,while with chatting ,the same could be done without visiting.There are several advantages of chatting vs telephone: chatting is cheaper,more reliable and accessible,is amenable to quality auditing by the supervisors.We know the performance and problems of 17.A lot of travel time ,traffic congestion ,fuel consumption ,pollution and consumer frustration could be reduced by utilizing all these facilities optimally.Two decades ago,PPP government made Awami Markaz for roughly the same purpose, now Awami Markaz could be brought to peoples homes and computers.

Policy and facilitation can speed up the adoption of these tools and technologies ,which may take a longer time otherwise.In this respect , government should tighten up its relevant departments.Electronic Government Department needs to be reorganized and energized.Governance,performance and development come in small bits and pieces ,but if innovation and initiative is sustained , it can add up to a grand total,that is visible and perceptible.Concluding,following steps may be taken towards adoption of social media and other internet communication tools:

1) A formal communication policy with a view to encourage social media and other internet communication media.
2)Adoption a and induction of Face Book,Chatting,Tweeter and Blogging.
3)Blogging is cheaper and easier to maintain than websites,which often require specialists.
4)Maps of the locations of the departments should be published on the internet.This has become so easy and is free due to Google Earth.
5)Case processing history and status updation be posted on the websites of the departments,on the line and style of Courier companies.

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