A retrospective analysis of e-government development in Kazakhstan

The development of e-government in Kazakhstan can be regarded as an example of the ICT-driven reforms in public administration in a typical emerging nation. Hypothetically, one of the primary reasons for the policy is a relentless desire of the
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  The development of e-government in Kazakhstan can be regarded as an example of the ICT-driven reforms in public administration in a typical emerging nation. Hypothetically, one of the primary reasons for the policy is a relentless desire of the central authorities to increase the global ranking of the country in various e-government listings and ratings. In fact, since the introduction of the state-run e-government program in 2004, which imple- mentation was eventually materialized in the inauguration of the ofcial e-government portal in 2006, the policy makers of the project have regarded the realization of the concept as a matter of national priority. Therefore, large-scale nancial and human resources have been utilized to introduce and maintain technological, social and political components of the project. In this regard, the main purpose of this chapter is to analyze the development of the ICT-driven public sector reforms in Kazakhstan, where e-government has played a crucial role in the overall reformation of the technological and  philosophical aspects of modern public administration and governance. The framework for retrospective analysis  Introduction: identifying the milestones In researching the history of the e-government project in Kazakhstan, it is necessary to section it to several periods in its development that would reect the milestones of the ICT-driven reforms both in public administration – i.e. in the traditional domain of the concept – and in the political sphere, which surprisingly is beginning to indirectly affect the realization of many ini-tiatives in the e-government area today. Moreover, the development of the concept is not only limited to the public sector, areas as economy and civil society were affected by the phenomenon, too, especially when it comes to, for example, the promotion of public procurement or e-commerce plat-forms and the recent emergence of new instruments such as open data and  blog platforms to diffuse civic engagement and e-participation respectively, 3 A retrospective analysis of e-government development in Kazakhstan 15031-0336d-1pass-r03.indd 2915-07-2016 13:14:02 Cite this work as:Kassen, M. (2016). A retrospective analysis of e-government development in Kazakhstan. In: E-government in Kazakhstan (pp.29-53). Routledge: London.To access the rest of the book, please visit:  Author: Maxat KASSEN, Professor of Political Science,Eurasian Humanities Institute(Astana, Kazakhstan)  30  A retrospective analysis of e-govenment  not only at the central national level of government but also at the regions and municipalities levels. These changes in the public sector could poten-tially affect in a positive way even the traditional behavioral aspects of e-government communication by welcoming new players to collaborate in some of the ICT-driven public projects – i.e. resorting to a practice that has never been used before in the political life of the country. It could be especially benecial in a country that is still experiencing the consequences of its totalitarian Soviet past. The cumbersome and extremely bureaucratic  public administration system that it inherited as a legacy from the USSR in 1991 is a notorious example to mention in this respect.  Methodology: asking the research questions The research will be based mostly on a retrospective analysis of the e-government policies realized by Kazakhstan during the last decade – i.e. since 2004, when the rst national e-government strategy was adopted – and will mainly rely on the study of the secondary sources and data on the topic such as academic and professional literature, policy analysis of the main political strat-egies adopted in this period, content analysis of the text of related legislation,  political programs and speeches by top public gures and key policy makers in the sphere. In this regard, the retrospective analysis of the e-government devel- opment will be built around the following research questions (see gure 3.1):  Figure 3.1  Building the framework of the retrospective analysis Source: own illustration 15031-0336d-1pass-r03.indd 3015-07-2016 13:14:02   A retrospective analysis of e-govenment   311 What were the key e-government projects?2 How was the e-government sphere regulated?3 Who were the key e-government stakeholders?4 How did the development of the projects affect the global e-government rating of Kazakhstan over time? The history of e-government in Kazakhstan: coming of age The rst period (2004–2006): building the e-government infrastructure  Key projects THE OFFICIAL E-GOVERNMENT PORTAL The main characteristic of the rst period is the preparation to launch the rst e-government project, which was nalized with the inauguration of the ofcial portal in 2006. Ofcially, the start of the preparations began in 2004 with the introduction of the rst e-government strategy (The e-Government Directive # 1471, 2004), adopted by the central government as a main politi-cal document for all ICT-based transformations in government and public administration. Conceptually, the strategy was developed under the strong inuence of international trends at that time after nearly all developed and many developing nations had adopted similar e-government programs (Moon, 2002; Chadwick & May, 2003; Lee, Tan & Trimi, 2005). Therefore, one of the primary goals of the concept was to offer a road map for general  political promotion of the ICT-based public administration and develop con-crete tactics on how to better implement a single e-government project with some potentially benecial areas to focus on such as the development of technological components, which would include the portal itself and a set of initial electronic services (e-services). In this regard, it is necessary to note that these plans did not propose any e-services in the modern sense (Ven-katesh, Chan & Thong, 2012). Mainly, e-services were understood as a set of ordinary government information, but the organization on a single portal, however, was better focused on particular areas of government activity. Basi-cally, it offered information aggregated from various government websites. The portal itself ( was introduced to the public on April 12, 2006, which from the rst day of operation has provided free access to sev -eral information services (Kassen, 2010) in sections such as culture and lei-sure, environment protection, land management, transport, travel and others.For the overall realization of the e-government project in 2005–2007, including the launch and operation of the portal, the central government 15031-0336d-1pass-r03.indd 3115-07-2016 13:14:02  32  A retrospective analysis of e-govenment  allocated approximately 52 billion KZT (The e-Government Directive # 1471, 2004), which was equivalent to 400 million USD at that time. Money was spent on the infrastructural and organizational preparations for the launch of the ofcial e-government project. In this regard, one of the organizational parts of the ICT-driven public sector reforms was the unica - tion of all identication numbers such taxpayer, passport and ID, and social security numbers of citizens into one single national identication number to ensure better integration of various e-government systems and databases and, more important, provide a single technological venue for the launch of transactional services in the future. Kazakhstan, in this respect, just fol-lowed the widespread global trend (Otjacques, Hitzelberger & Feltz, 2007; McKenzie, Crompton & Wallis, 2008; Lyon, 2009) in this direction of ICT-driven public administration reforms. MANAGEMENT OF INTERNET DOMAINS Another aspect of the ICT-driven public sector reforms in Kazakhstan was the rst attempts to regulate the national segment of the Internet space by differentiating special domain names for various sectors of the economy in a Western manner, which would include names such as for edu-cational institutions (e.g. universities, academies and colleges); for government agencies; for nongovernmental organizations and civic  projects; for telecommunication companies, etc. (The decree N 88-b, 2005). However, the plans in this area have not been fully realized, since not all government agencies followed the rules in registering their ofcial web - sites and portals. The nancial and organizational complexity to re-register thousands of domain names, especially in the private sector, would require  public support and presented a bureaucratic and technological challenge for many organizations and small businesses. The registration of many more websites in the following years occurred in an environment of political and legal uncertainty of what should be done with existing and newly regis-tered websites and how to regulate the domain registration, which just rein-forced the status quo in this sector of the ICT market and the project was abandoned.  Regulation policy ADOPTION OF THE FIRST E-GOVERNMENT STRATEGY The strategy of e-government realization, adopted in 2004 and ofcially named the state program of e-government formation in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2005–2007 became a key legal instrument to regulate all AuQ8 15031-0336d-1pass-r03.indd 3215-07-2016 13:14:02   A retrospective analysis of e-govenment   33 public activities in this direction for the following three years. In addi-tion to the provision of various information and prospective transactional services, the administrators of the program planned to implement several measures aimed at closing the digital divide (The e-Government Directive # 1471, 2004), which was one of the main barriers of e-government adoption in Kazakhstan at that time among citizens (Bhuiyan, 2010) and between regions, for example, by organizing special courses and educational pro-grams. Another goal was to ensure some degree of information security of the governmental infrastructure related to the implementation of the e-government project, by protecting databases and telecommunication net-works from external tampering activity. AMENDMENTS TO THE RELATED E-GOVERNMENT LAWS At that time, the development of the telecommunication market was vir-tually monopolized by Kazakhtelecom (McGlinchey & Johnson, 2007), a national telecommunication carrier, which controlled the ICT networks of the entire country and provided access to the Internet not only to the vast majority of subscribers among citizens and businesses but also to other Internet service providers. Taking into account the fact that the develop-ment of e-government logically implied the organization of affordable and easy access to the Internet for a greater number of citizens, especially in the country, the national government decided to ensure the creation of special-ized access points to the Web in all schools, resorting to a wide telecommu-nication and infrastructural basis of the carrier (Resolution N 479, 2005). Another goal was to cut prices for access to the Internet for all citizens of the country to ensure the formation of an army of potential users for the normal operation of future e-government projects. In this respect, the national authorities resorted to traditional bureaucratic top-down mecha-nisms of regulation such as resolutions and directives, which nevertheless, as it later turned out, have proved to be effective in a highly monopolized telecommunications market.  Key stakeholders of the projects GOVERNMENT AGENCIES The national government was a key stakeholder in promoting the e-government  project, whose support and readiness to fund the related activities in this direc-tion allowed political funding for the realization of the e-government strategy. The strategy was developed by the Agency of Informatization and Communi-cation, which also provided administrative supervision and strategic direction 15031-0336d-1pass-r03.indd 3315-07-2016 13:14:02
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