According to this report, the US government is aiming to become the "best manager, innovator and user" of information services and systems in the world. The report comes amid concern that so far, federal e-government progress has fallen below expectations. Only eight agencies have received the highest standard of rating for e-government in official evaluations, says the report.
The Council of Europe has adopted a recommendation on e-governance on 15 December 2004. The Council recommends that member states "Work together with the appropriate international, national, regional and local stakeholders, to develop a shared vision of e-governance that upholds human rights, democracy and the rule of law." Member states should use e-governance to strengthen democratic institutions at all levels and make them more accessible, transparent, accountable and responsive. E-governance is not one-sided, but should provide opportunities for all to participate in the process of decision-making. Finally member states should use information and communication technologies to "improve public administration and services by making them more accessible, user-centred, transparent, efficient and cost-effective, thus contributing to the economic and cultural vitality of society."
The recommendation also promotes open standards and open source software: "(the e-governance strategy) provides for an ICT policy based on technology neutrality, open standards and on the assessment of possibilities offered by different software models, including open source models."
Many countries are currently developing digital identification schemes and are designing new databases to collate multiple sources of government information about citizens. The recommendation does not interfere with one of the hottest debates; about the voluntary co-operation of citizens. The text suggests it might be optional to use digital media to use government
services: "widen the choices available to users for communicating and transacting with government by providing additional channels". But opt-in is not explicitly mentioned when it comes to privacy. Privacy is mentioned only as the need to be "aware of the potential risks related, in particular, to the abuse of personal data" and as the need to enhance "citizens' confidence in democratic processes, public authorities and public services, including through protecting personal data."
Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on electronic governance (15.12.2004)
The German Parliament (Bundestag) has completed the first reading of a new freedom of information law on 17 December 2004. Germany and Switzerland are the only 2 major Western European member states of the Council of Europe without such a law on accessibility of governmental acts and decision making. Within the EU, only Cyprus, Malta and Luxemburg lack this kind of legislation. The German green-red coalition cabinet promised to send such a proposal to the Lower House immediately after the summer recess.
In a joint press release, the data protection authorities of Schleswig-Holstein, Berlin, Brandenburg and Nordrhein-Westfalen call the proposal 'a step in the right direction', but at the same time say the proposal 'shows the skid marks of numerous compromises'. Documents containing company secrets can only be made available, even if the company agrees, if there is an exceptional public interest. In general, the data protection authorities complain there are too many restrictions in the law.
EDRI-gram reported earlier that a freedom of information law was already announced in 1998, in the coalition agreement between the Social Democrat Party (SPD) and the Greens. The project was stalled many times, until the national ministry of the interior released a half-hearted discussion draft in the summer of 2001. This legal proposal was rejected in June 2002, due to party-political disagreement.
The present report will highlight such emerging egovernance
practices within three cities (Bologna, Issy-les-Moulineaux, and
Tampere) and three countries (Estonia, France, and Ireland) mainly by means of
13 analytical categories, which have been inductively developed.
Hilary Benn gave a speech to an audience of TV executives and development experts at a conference jointly organised by the DFID and the BBC World Service Trust.
At the conference - titled, 'Towards 2005: What role does the media have in the fight against global poverty?' Hilary Benn said:
"To what extent does the media feel that its role is to move beyond disaster reporting to examining the deeper challenges behind the bad news and the possible solutions? ", asked Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development, in London on 24 November 2004.
He also made clear that he felt, "What happens in one country increasingly affects those who live in other countries. We will not have a safe and secure world unless we do something about poverty, injustice and inequality. We can do something"
He added , " And it is also our job to make you aware of the stories that are out there. Stories that show development working to change people's lives"
He finished by saying that, "The world is crying out for change, and you are the messengers of that cry. It's our responsibility to hear it, and if we do, then we have a better chance of doing the things we know in our heart need to be done to change this world we see before us".