Stepping towards the future of e-governing

14:00 | 13/08/2020
The Vietnamese government is trying to build up an effective e-government to bring more benefits to both public and enterprises. Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong talked with VIR’s Thanh Tung about public investment in this sector, and the role of the ministry in supporting the government to reach this important goal.
1504p12 stepping towards the future of e governing
Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong

How has public investment in developing an e-government in Vietnam been conducted?

Boosting the application of IT in state agencies has received special interest from agencies of all levels. In which, the construction of an e-government and e-National Assembly has made important results.

This has come from the effective usage of public investment capital for deploying IT projects in agencies. However, one of the difficulties is the limited capital for IT development.

We are about to finish the mid-term public investment cycle for the 2016-2020 period and embark on a new cycle. Preparations have been made, such as the prime minister’s directive on formulating the mid-term public investment plan for the 2021-2025 period, and guidelines by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

In particular, the National Assembly Standing Committee recently enacted Resolution 973/2020/UBTVQH14 on principles, criteria, and quotas of public investment sourced from the state budget for the 2021-2025 period. The MPI is also implementing procedures and seeking comments from relevant ministries and agencies for completing a draft decision of the prime minister on realising this resolution.

These are important legal foundations to make plans for public investment for the IT sector, in which the construction of an e-government is a focal task. On the other hand, regulations on principles, criteria, and quotas for allocating capital in the Law on Public Investment and Resolution 973 have been renewed, empowering ministries, central agencies, and localities to balance financial resources for IT development out of the total capital given by the state within the whole 2021-2025 period.

How urgent is e-government development in Vietnam now?

The formulation and completion of the e-government scheme is a correct policy, an inevitable and objective requirement, and a common trend worldwide. Any nation with an effective e-government will find it favourable in enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of monitoring and guiding economic development and social management.

Vietnam is not an exception, especially now when it is embarking upon Industry 4.0 and when demand for IT application has been surging in all sectors due to COVID-19 impacts. Vietnam has numerous advantages in e-government development thanks to its strongly-developed IT sector.

However, much remains to be done for developing an effective e-government, and capital for this sector is huge. Thus the toughest problem now is how to properly balance capital, and select appropriate technologies, ensuring state agencies’ all transactions can be conducted swiftly, effectively, and safely.

What is the MPI’s role in boosting the construction of e-government?

The MPI plays two important roles in developing the e-government now and in the future. Specifically, as a governmental agency, the ministry must boost implementation of the e-government scheme within itself, which will be developed into the most modern, professional, and effective one.

As an agency in charge of providing consultancy for the government with assorted policies including public investment, the MPI will make greatest efforts to study and advance strategic solutions in IT development in general and e-government development in particular.

It will also closely combine with ministries, central agencies, and localities in formulating a suitable capital allocating plan in order to effectively promote the IT application in state agencies of the political system, and of the e-government scheme.

1504p12 stepping towards the future of e governing
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has enhanced online procedures for various types of bidding, Photo: Le Tien

What activities has the MPI launched so as to beef up development in this area?

Firstly, we have boosted the IT application in the ministries’ activities, especially in managing documents, approving dossiers, and inking and enacting documents. The ministry has frequently updated and modernised its management system, with desired outcomes in administrative management.

The MPI has early deployed a concentrated regulating system of documents for all units, which are integrated with the National E-document Exchange Platform, and applied digital signatures in e-document exchanges.

Secondly, the MPI has applied IT in processing administrative procedures and public services, as well as a one-door procedure, facilitating the solution of all administrative procedures related to the ministry. Also, we have also successfully connected the MPI’s public service portal with the National Public Service Portal (NPSP). So far, a number of our services such as business registration and bidding have also been connected with the NPSP.

Thirdly, the MPI has also applied data digitalisation. Many of its units have implemented activities related to big data, such as the General Statistics Office. This is considered the “big data” of the country. The office has applied IT in all activities.

Next, the MPI has applied IT in its information system on public investment. Two years ago, public investment was officially managed by IT. The Law on Public Investment and existing regulations have recognised the public investment management via an official system which is equally valid as documents signed and stamped by authorised agencies.

This demonstrates the great values of IT application in public investment management and aims to improve the effectiveness of public investment as well as boost implementation of procedures of state-funded projects.

The information system on public investment has been deployed nationwide, facilitating activities about formulating, collecting, allocating, and adjusting mid-term and annual public investment plans.

In addition, the MPI has developed an information system on investment supervision. This is a big-data system covering both public investment and investment by enterprises. This system is well operated and deployed nationwide, helping serve supervision activities, especially supervision reports for the National Assembly’s sessions on investment supervision.

Also, the ministry has also developed and operated an information system and national database on business registration. This system can allow us to know the clear figures about business registration every minute. It has been connected with the database of the General Department of Taxation to follow the health of enterprises registered in the system.

The MPI also has a national bidding system. In the first half of 2020, the number of bidding packages processed online increased strongly thanks to shortened time in processing procedures. Reports on public investment review show that one of the causes behind slow disbursement of public investment is the prolonged time for conducting procedures, including a six-month procedure for bidding. Online bidding has helped many bidding packages save time, greatly helping investors to boost the implementation of projects.

The national bidding system has been implemented to perform online bidding and public procurement and effectively manage information and databases on bidding nationwide. Moreover, the MPI also has other systems including the national statistics database and the national information system on foreign investment.

Caitlin Wiesen - Resident representative in Vietnam, UN Development Programme

1504p12 stepping towards the future of e governing

E-public services and digital transformation can ensure continuous service delivery amid restrictive measures on social distancing. They help protect citizens and public officials from exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic and increase efficiency and savings for society. They can also contribute to reducing opportunities for corruption.

E-public services are also greener as they reduce the number of journeys to administrative offices. Furthermore, in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, developing e-public services is an important step in achieving digital transformation of government services.

The UN Development Programme is focusing on three recommendations to help improve e-public services.

Firstly, improving access to information and internet connectivity is key to making e-public services more easily accessible and convenient for citizens. Information needs to be consolidated, processed in bite-sized pieces and a user-friendly manner, and communicated in innovative ways such as infographics, short clips, and animations, utilising the country’s extensive smart phone coverage to capture the attention of and engage users.

Secondly, increasing incentives and reducing costs for e-services users will help change behaviour. For instance, the launch of e-notary services on the National e-Services Portal by the Office of Government in July, together with new decrees, will enable the usage of electronic identification for online identification and authentication in using e-services.

Lastly, focusing on users’ needs is essential to improving e-services. Citizen engagement is key both for promoting e-governance as well as for improving quality. Better mechanisms can be developed to identify these evolving needs and collect and more importantly, respond to users’ feedback.

By Thanh Tung

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