Friday, November 28, 2014

A Brief History and Milestones of E-Government in Turkey

There is not any unique and specific legal bases with regard to e-government in Turkey. But a State Minister was assigned to coordinate all e-government preparednes and implementations. This minister is responsible for determining all e-government policies and reports directly to Prime Minister. Although central and local administrations in Turkey had some e-government applications,  Turkey’s e-government approach has mainly a central character, having a belief that e-government policies and strategies should prepare and coordinate centrally.  Concidering that independent applications would be ineffective and might be create uncertainties, the government decided to commence an e-Transformation Turkey Project in 2003. The main benefits that the government is expected to gain through e-government applications and Transformation Project are listed as follow:
·         Equal enjoyment of and easy access to services,
·         To eliminate bribary,
·         To increase individual participation,
·         To provide governance,
·         To make institutions work rapidly and effectively,
·         To eliminate red tape and to respond the need of citizens just in time,
·         To provide low cost and high quality service,
·         To decrease staffs’ mistake ratio to mininum,
·         To enhance accountability and transparency

According to the Project, a four-phase action plan was devised:
·         To provide information in agency web pages,
·         To provide on-line services by institutions,
·         To form a single point to provide all public services through a portal,
·         To create new kind of services
On contrary to weak, scattered and seperate efforts of each institution in the previous, e-government efforts were started to be handled in a strategic and centralized manner. This organised endeavors were flourished immediately. 2003 - The Central Civil Registration System (MERNIS), The Identity Information Sharing System (KPS), Central Address Registration System (AKS) were the first fruits of this initiative. 2004 –E-Signature Law came into force, Information Acquisition Law introduced which makes it possible for all citizens to request all kind of personel or governmental information which is not classified. E-declaration system that allows all public or private parties sent documents and tax declarations pertinent to health insurance and retirement process,  2006 - e-school system, 2007 – National Information Community Strategy Paper and Standarts for Public Web Pages were introduced, E-identity Card Pilot Project (which also has biometric properties) launched, 2008 – Electronic Communication Law and a secondary regulation to put into effect e-public procurement system was enacted,  e-Government Gateway, e-invoice Project and e- land registry and cadastral transactions were launched.

The e-Government Gateway is a website which offers access to all public services from a single point. With the Portal 3. Phase of e-Transformation Project is achieved. The aim of the Portal is to offer public services to citizens, businesses, and government agencies in an efficient and effective manner through information technologies. Services offered to the citizens through the e-Government Portal are grouped as follows; Information services, e-Services, Payment transactions, information and document sharing among public institutions, Shortcuts to agencies and organizations, Information updates and announcements, Messages to citizens from agencies. As of 11/09/2014 there are 19.447.147 registered users,  1028 service offered by 142 institutions in the Gateway. 2009 – e-Centralized Electoral Roll, National Judiciary Informatics System 2009 -2014 Scientific and Technologic Researchs Institution of Turkey (TUBİTAK) is assigned to help transformation of and develop e-services for public institutions. From that time TUBİTAK worked with government agencies, helped them to design e-services and integrate them into e-Government Gateway.

It’s clear that central approach to coordinate efforts of different government agencies paid off for Turkey. It seems to be a good time to go further for the fourth planned stage of the Project which needs much more sofisticated action. However, taking a step back at this stage of operation and collecting feed backs from institutions might be useful to consolidate rapid improvements before jumping to forward.

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