Electronic services delivery
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E-service (or eservice) is a highly generic term usually referring to ‘The provision of services via the Internet (the prefix 'e' standing for ‘electronic’, as it does in many other usages), thus e-Service may also include e-Commerce, although it may also include non-commercial services (online), which is usually provided by the government.’ (Alexei Pavlichev & G. David Garson, 2004: 169-170; Muhammad Rais & Nazariah, 2003: 59, 70-71).
‘An umbrella term for services available on the Internet, e-Service include e-Commerce transaction services for handling online orders, application hosting by application service providers (ASPs) and any processing capability that is obtainable on the Web.’ (Computer Desktop Encyclopedia, 2009)
E-Service or 'electronic service' constitutes the online services available on the Internet, whereby a valid transaction of buying and selling (procurement) is possible, as opposed to the traditional websites, whereby only descriptive information are available, and no online transaction is made possible.' (Jeong, 2007).
All citizens who live under a governing body, whether federal, state, province, or local, need to interact with government. Some interactions are voluntary (e.g., subscribing to a particular social scheme); while others are mandated (e.g., paying taxes, or getting a driver's license to drive on public roads). Business and other organizations also need to interact with the government on a regular basis. A government's constituency is large and diverse, and includes such special populations as the physically challenged and the illiterate.
Given a large population with widely varying needs, it can be difficult for the government to effectively deliver services to citizens and organizations. The problem can become worse as government and population grows but delivery systems do not change. Service delivery becomes slow and uncertain, and the cost of delivering services can rise. This can lead to corruption (for example, the payment of "speed money" to get a job done). These problems are common, perhaps more so in developing nations.
To address these problems, governments can attempt to streamline service delivery and bring greater speed, certainty, and transparency to the process. Electronic Service Delivery is one way governments attempt to deliver services directly to the citizen, without the citizen having to go to a government building. Electronic Service Delivery can look like other shopping or service sites on the Internet.
Levels of service
Depending on the maturity of a government's electronic service delivery capability, the following levels of service may be provided, in order of increasing sophistication:
The government IT infrastructure and service delivery capability is fairly rudimentary, and provides only static information via electronic means, in the form of government instructions and such things as application forms, newsletters, etc.
With slightly more sophisticated and reliable infrastructure, some interactive service content can be made available electronically. For instance, a website may allow a form to be filled out online, printed out, and carried to a government office in person.
The government information technology infrastructure is mature enough but not widely available throughout the country and the government has reasonably stable and reliable electronic service delivery capability. Online submission of corporate tax returns fall into this category, as most corporate head offices are located in cities where Internet and other IT infrastructure is available. The government departments would have their internal IT divisions to construct and look after their own ESD applications.
The government information technology infrastructure is mature, stable and pervasive; the government has been able develop its electronic service delivery capability sufficiently that government departments can interact with one another electronically. The electronic service that is delivered to the consumer is not from just one department but is an integrated product from more than one department. As an example, the UK Government has many services which are at this level.
Getting the services to the people
Achieving integration of electronic service delivery capability is not enough for a government. It also needs to ensure that these electronic services are accessible by the citizens. This is achieved through different "Service Delivery Channels", which take into consideration the IT infrastructure, ability of a citizen to interact with the government electronically, and social considerations. This is usually addressed by "Bridging the Digital Divide"
- Alexei Pavlichev & G. David Garson. (2004). Digital Government: Principles and Best Practices. London: IDEA Group Publishing.
- Computer Desktop Encyclopedia. (2010). ‘Definition of e-Services.’ Computer Language Company Inc.  Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
- Jeong Chun Hai @Ibrahim. (2007). Fundamental of Development Administration. Selangor: Scholar Press.
- Muhammad Rais & Nazariah Mohd Khalid. (2003). E-Government in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications.