1392680 - Global IS Editor Alun Preece University of...

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Editor: Alun Preece University of Aberdeen [email protected] G l o b a l I S effort to establish electronic communication between citi- zens and governmental functions (G2C and C2G). The goal is to provide access to information and to open up decision-making processes to citizens (e-participation) to encourage a grass-roots engagement of citizens with democratic processes. This goal might sound utopian, but the result could well be dystopian, with as many opportunities for abuse as for benefit. We can’t underestimate the potential for opposi- tion. Those whose control and power could be diminished might resent the fundamental change this presages in the relationship between citizens on the one hand and politi- cians and civil servants on the other. This department doesn’t allow enough space for an exhaustive global survey. (For more information, see the Commonwealth Centre for Electronic Governance’s sur- veys on e-government, e-democracy, and e-inclusion at www.electronicgovindia.net.) Rather, I focus on develop- ments in Latin America. In particular, I look at some of the activities reported on at last year’s EU-Latin American Workshop on E-Government and E-Democracy held in Chile (www.eu-lat.org), 1 such as Mexico’s public procure- ment system, CompraNet, and Chile’s Agenda Digital. To some, Latin America might seem a surprising place to look for such activities. However, just as wireless technology enabled some countries to leap-frog wired infrastructures, adopting e-government processes is often easier when there’s less of a venerable and entrenched establishment to reorga- nize. Additionally, Latin America’s willingness to seek change has made it a strong candidate for e-government. Mexico’s e-government services Mexico was an early adopter of e-government services. In 1996 it implemented CompraNet, a comprehensive Internet- based public-sector tendering and procurement system (www.compranet.gob.mx). In 1999, the system received the Bangemann Challenge Prize for the best e-commerce Internet portal (see www.challenge.stockholm.se). I discuss its strong points here; a more critical assessment appears elsewhere. 2 CompraNet facilitates approximately US$25 billion in procurement transactions for over 250 federal agencies and numerous municipalities. 3 Project development and implementation was motivated by the Mexican govern- ment’s desire to Remove opportunities for private-sector procurement surcharges by disintermediating (eliminating intermedi- aries or middlemen in the supply chain) public-sector tendering Open up government procurement to a wider range of potential suppliers by making procurement processes less costly and more accessible Improve the efficiency, competitiveness, and transparency of public-sector procurement Now, with at least 80,000 companies registered with CompraNet and almost half a million individual users, 3 the system is rapidly increasing its volume of transactions.
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