The chapter will be an indication of what the study is aiming to achieve in the long run. It will provide the background of the study, statement of the problem while the research objectives will be clearly stated to enable better understanding of the importance of carrying out the study. The study’s significance, scope and limitations will be adequately provided and deliberated.
1.2 Background of the Study
The changing global technology trends have necessitated the urge by developing countries to restructure existing government structures and processes to achieve a more unified public sector. Increase in the use of technologies in the public sector has led to the transformation the public policy, functions and processes. In order to achieve a coherent e-government a collaborative strategy involving inter-agency policy coordination is paramount. To facilitate this digital coherence, there should be a clearly set digital strategy instituted and funded by the political leadership backed by a coherent framework and policies across all government levels. The engagement of relevant government departments and the effective functioning all co-ordination mechanisms across all policy levels enhances of a whole-of-government approach which strengthens the national cohesion strategy. Kenyan government has taken a major step towards the achievement of a digital public sector by adopting Huduma Centres, a one stop shop for all public services, and the implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System(IFMIS), an automated public financial system launched in 2003 (ICPAK, 2017). The introduction of these digital platforms has increased the efficiency of service delivery, public accountability, transparency and strengthened internal government control units. According to Hassan, et al., 2017, (Hassan, et al., 2017) for a successful delivery of services by the Huduma centers is pegged on the ability of various government computing systems to interact seamlessly across all the line ministries. As such, there is need for all heterogeneous computing systems to share information and integrate all processes to implement a homogenous digital strategy. Additionally, for the government to implement a coherent digital strategy for the whole government (Both the national and county governments), a collaborative network-based governance framework should be created. This strategy should consist of a common technology infrastructure with a central policy management framework to foster a coherent e-government (Maweu ; Karani, 2016).
The OECD council made recommendations on digital government strategies which acts as a blueprint for implementing the coherent e-government strategy for member countries (OECD, 2014). The recommendations offer a whole-government approach applicable both at the national and county levels of government. They are contained in a single document used by both member states and non-members (like Kenya) seeking to address institutional challenges to the implementation of digital government strategies. In 2014 Denmark launched “A Shared Agenda –Denmark’s Action Plan for Policy Coherence for Development”. The Danish Government highlighted on 3 strategic development agendas: Trade and Finance, Food security and Climate Change, Peace and Security. The Danish action plan was aided by coherent government systems. There is inter-ministerial Committee composed of all the relevant ministries. This co-ordination is aimed at fostering coherence on all the earmarked policy areas. Likewise, in 2012 Finland adopted a new development policy program which supported greater coherence as well as provision of quality and efficient public services. The Finnish government prioritized on five areas: food security, trade, migration, security and taxation. The involved line ministries worked in tandem to achieve maximum digital coherence. The ministry of Foreign affairs is tasked with the co-ordination of the ministries at a focal point. Consequently, the country has achieved tremendous improvements on food security and taxation (OECD, 2015). Similarly, the Kenyan government has prioritized on four key pillars: Manufacturing, food and nutritional security, affordable housing and universal health that will act as a catalyst to economic growth and development by 2022. This agenda can be achieved faster if a coherent digital strategy is fully implemented.
1.2.1 Coherent Digitization
Coherence is a collective effort to direct wide range of governance activities across all levels of government towards a common goal and objective in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency. This paper highlights two types of coherence; horizontal and vertical. Horizontal coherence, also known as intra-agency coherence, emphasizes on the need of consistency among government structures and proccesses of an individual government department. For instance, internal coherence between the ministry of health and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). On the other hand, vertical Coherence also known as whole-of-government coherence, underlines the consistency of government structures and processes between different departments across all government policy levels. An Example of this type of coherence is the coherence between four Key ministries that support the Big Four Agenda in Kenya. For coherence to be achieved, different government structures and processes should be intergrated without loosing their individual identities, well co-ordinated in order to share information hence eliminating duplication and overlapping of mandates. Additionally, the actors with complementary mandates should be willing to co-operate and co-exist in order to foster a workable policy collaboration (Curry, et al., 2014). On 15th July 2014, the OECD Council adopted the recommendations put across by the Public Governance Committee (PGC) on how to implement digital government strategies. The Recommendations were structured around three pillars with twelve principles. Consequently this paper will focus on pillar three under principles five, six and seven (PGC, 2014).
22.214.171.124 Political Leadership’s Commitment
According to the OECD recommendations on digital government strategies of 2014, in order to implement the digital strategy governments should secure political leadership commitment through encouraging inter-departmental co-ordination and collaboration. This can be implemented across all ministries and government departments both at the national and county levels. The political leadership should ensure that the government adopts a digital coherence policy by enacting the necessary legislations, ensuring that sufficient budgetary allocation is channeled towards the implementation of the policy and systematically monitor the implications of the coherent policy proposals for the government’s agenda of coherent digitization of the public sector. The set policy proposals facilitate engagement and co-ordination of various departments across all levels of government in pursuing the coherent digitization agenda. Countries that have implemented the digital strategy have assigned the mandate of implementation of the strategy to particular government agencies that have a central overview and co-ordination capacity of implementing the e-government strategies. Both Denmark and the USA have all implemented the coherence policy in their respective public sectors. The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), assumes a stronger leadership role of analyzing and promoting the digital coherence policy proposals. Likewise, The USAID plays a stronger advocacy role in the analysis and promotion of development policy coherence as compared to other government agencies in the USA (Ashoff, 2005).
126.96.36.199 Coherent Use of Digital Technologies
Digital technologies include all types of electronic equipment, systems that store and or process government data. The steady and constant integration of new technologies (e.g. cloud computing, mobile technology and social media platforms) in the public sector opens up the government giving rise to new forms of public engagement in the public, private and social spheres. Therefore, this new digital strategy encourages collaborative and mutual interactions among the relevant stakeholders in the public sector. In order to achieve coherent digitization in the public sector, technology options adopted should have the ability to integrate hence discouraging public sector fragmentation. The government should set aside enough resources for the acquisition and use of digital technologies. Coherent use of digital technologies is driven by a national digital strategy with clear objectives and policies based on level of ICT maturity in the public sector and the overall citizenry uptake of digital initiatives. In addition, digital technology strategy should be coherently integrated with all the other public sector strategies in line with the national government vision and development policies to ensure interoperability of information systems. Implementing a coherent digital strategy ensures there is an active engagement of stakeholders that drive the overall governance reforms. Likewise, it ensures there is alignment and mutual reinforcements within the various sectors in the public sector. This coherent arrangement helps to align strategic investment in digital technologies with the technological deployment across all government policy areas (PGC, 2014).
Furthermore, the government should sustain investment on digital strategies in subsequent fiscal years. Procurement of these technologies should be based on the assessment on existing assets ranging from job profiles to digital skills pool to existing inter-agency agreements. Similarly, procurement and contracting laws should the amended appropriately making them compatible to the coherent e-government framework (OECD, 2014). Majority of the OECD countries have implemented various digital infrastructures. The Swedish government has instituted a common government information portal and a single point portal for business. Similarly, Norway and Finland have all invested on a single-point command information system that offers a platform for the delivery of public services to citizens. On the other hand, Denmark has gone a step further by instituting an online trading portal and an education materials website (Joseph ; Avdic, 2016). The Kenyan government can borrow from the experiences of these countries to establish a coherently digital public sector.
188.8.131.52 Coherent Organization and Governance Frameworks
The strategic and coherent use of new technologies within the government is determined by the governance and co-ordination of organizational frameworks put in place by that government. Effective e-government frameworks require clear and articulated roles and responsibilities in the development, implementation, co-ordination and oversight of coherent digital government policies. According to the recommendations of the OECD council on digital government strategies in 2014, a coherent e-government framework should establish a single unit or department that with a clearly stipulated mandate of steering and coordinating the government’s ICT policy. As a result, the centralized unit should manage information systems, digital services and enable user-driven digital approaches to digital government. The coherent framework should support coherence in the implementation of all ICT initiatives within and across both strategic and operational levels of government. In addition, a coherent e-governance architecture ensures that there is synchrony between the strategic government service delivery platforms and development objectives. Moreover, a coherent governmental framework develops a set of robust performance indicators meant to assess and monitor the implementation of the digital strategy. These indicators the coordinating agency with an overarching view of e-government strategy in terms of activities, inputs, outputs, outcomes and impact hence ensuring that there is a clear basis for strategic reinforcements and digital improvements. A comprehensive assessment of government ministries and departments entails identifying and eliminating all overlapping processes and duplicated functions. This elimination reduces government wastages and optimizes the digital strategy by determining the optimal staffing levels, carrying out job evaluations and introducing of a new government appraisal system for the coherent digital policy (OECD, 2014).
A commanding 92.5 % of OECD countries has established single government units for the co-ordination of the e-government strategies. These units ensure there is a coherent articulation across all policy sectors, champions the technical interoperability of policies and frameworks within the public sector. As such the coherent framework eradicates all incoherences by ensuring there a workable policy collaboration across the institutional actors, eliminating uneven use of ICT technologies and strengthening the human capital and institution capacities. Moreover, all the coherent institutions should have the ability to adapt to the existing co-ordination mechanisms, legal frameworks, institution capacities and administrative culture to enhance a smooth digital transition. Furthermore, the coordination mechanisms should be regularly reviewed based on the dynamic technological environments and trends to ensure that the coherence policy is adaptive to the changing global digital government strategies (OECD, 2017). Denmark, a member of the OECD and a beneficiary of coherent e-government strategy, has demonstrated that these principles of a coherent framework can be applied optimally to promote coherence of structures and processes in the public sector. The ‘Danish Digital Strategy 2016-2020’ has promoted constant collaboration of central, regional and local governments by setting up ambitious goals for a continued digitally coherent public sector. The Danish public sector has worked coherently for several years bound by a common management of digital solutions. The digital and automated processes have increased the confidence of the citizens in the public sector (SCDA, 2017).
1.3 Statement of the Problem
This project seeks to reduce the government wastages and eliminate inefficiencies brought about by incoherent government structures and processes. These incoherences are brought about by divergent political interests, information shortages within the public sector, inadequate legislative amendments on coherence, shortcomings in the coherent policy formulation brought about by overriding departmental objectives and shortcomings in the co-ordination framework of government structures and processes. According to the ICPAK report on the progress IFMIS articulated various challenges that should be addressed to increase the system’s efficiency. Firstly, there’s a need for the political leadership to formulate a coherent legal framework for monitoring the implementation of the coherent digital policy. Secondly, the report proposes the establishment of coherent administrative and organizational structures with a common vision hence reducing government wastage as a result of overlapping and duplication of roles responsibilities. Finally, ICPAK proposes a coherent use of digital technologies across all policy areas to enable resource sharing, interoperability within the public sector and hence eliminating all the redundant administration strategies (ICPAK, 2017). Therefore, it is evident that there is a gap between the need for digital coherence and the capacity to attain it in Kenya. This research seeks to propose a holistic digital strategy to solve the aforementioned challenges. For that economic acceleration to be achieved, a coherent digital framework should be developed and implemented. The presence of challenges on the already existing digital platforms indicates that the government needs to adopt an all-inclusive digital strategy. In order to achieve digital coherence in the public sector the Kenyan government should establish a coherent governance framework to drive the coordinated sharing of structures and processes across all government levels. Besides, the framework should disseminate reliable, secure and trustworthy data across the policy allowing sharing and reuse of data. If implemented in Kenya, there should be a significant reduction of government wastages brought about by a decentralized framework. Additionally, the framework should ensure a cross-departmental optimization of government processes across the public sector with a common integration pattern enhancing a collaboration of digital technologies across policy areas. Finally, the framework should establish a monitoring system for “check and balances” of government’s expenditure on technology to increase public sector accountability. This accountability is facilitated by the outlining of possible improvements on decision making and management of policies hence minimizing incoherences brought about by the digital strategy failures and delays (OECD, 2014) As such, this paper proposes a coherent e-government framework that promotes integration in the public sector to increase efficiency of service delivery and reduce the government wastage. Principally, the government of Kenya can use the research as a blue print for coherent digitization.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.4.1 The General Objective
The general objective of the study is to evaluate the factors influencing the coherent digitization of government processes across all policy areas and levels of government to enhance efficient public service delivery in Kenya.
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
a) To examine the impact of the political leadership’s commitment to the coherent digital strategy on the efficiency of service delivery.
b) To determine the impact of coherent use of digital technologies across policy areas and level of government on the efficiency of service delivery.
a) To determine the effect of effective organization and governance frameworks to implement coherent digitization on the efficiency of service delivery.
1.5 Research Questions
a) What is the effect of political leadership’s commitment to the coherent digital strategy on the efficiency of service delivery?
b) What is the effect of coherent use of digital technologies across policy areas and levels of government on the efficiency of service delivery?
c) What is impact of effective organization and governance frameworks of implementing coherent digitization on the efficiency of service delivery?
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of the research will be a basis upon which the government, future researchers and investors will use in decision making;
1.6.1 The Government
The research findings may be used by the government to establish coherent governance policies and frameworks to implement the digital strategy across all the policy areas across all the government levels. This will form a structural basis for the implementation of a coherent digital policy within and across the public sector.
1.6.2 Future Researchers
The study is expected to be of great importance to the researchers since the researchers will be able to use this research’s findings as a reference on future research as well as a source of literature review to their studies. The results may also prompt further research work, to expand understanding of the research topic.
The study will greatly assist the potential investors in planning on the issues of the performance standards as the potential investors will be made aware of the impacts of strategic communication, whereby the awareness will be given on both sides, which is, the negative impact and the positive side of it. This will assist to create a good understanding of how to keep a coherent digital strategy across all the government departments.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The study will involve a lot of travelling to collect data from government line ministries. However, this will not affect the research scope as all the line ministries are situated in Nairobi. Therefore, this will minimize logistical problems.
Employees may refuse to disclose information for fear of victimization by the government. However, the researcher will assure them of utmost confidentiality on the information disclosed. This will give them confidence and courage to fill in the questionnaires.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The study will focus on the effect of coherent use of digital technologies across all policy areas and levels of the government of Kenya The study will be conducted in the various line ministries in Nairobi. The study will focus on both the management and the operational staff.