LACK OF 
SOFTWARE DESIGN IN DEVELOPING THE ICT TOOLS  FOR THE 

E- PARTICIPATION IN PAKISTAN

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Abstract— The Constitution of Pakistan through
various articles demands that citizen participation is taken into account at
all levels of government in coming up with decisions that affect their
livelihoods. Further, there is a global push by key international bodies to
ensure citizen participation is upheld. This is evidenced by various
international ranking such as United Nations E-participation index that
measures level of participation as provided by ICT tools otherwise called
E-participation. Pakistan has been ranked poorly in provision of
e-participation despite this a being a constitutional requirement. This
research sought to establish and evaluate the status of e-participation tools
and initiatives, their reach, use and effectiveness. Further, the research
sought to determine the influence of specific technology adoption factors on
e-participation i.e. compatibility of tool to user experiences, citizen
awareness, complexity of the tool and relative advantage of the software tool
design for E-participation. The main aim being to develop a set of guiding
principles that can be followed by other departments while trying to provide
for e-participation.

The key constructs for the study that
informed the hypothesis were compatibility of Software  tool to design vs reality gaps, complexity of
the tool, relative advantage of the tool and citizen awareness to existence of
tool. These were informed by the technology adoption factors as identified by
the literature review on technology adoption models. 

The research established that despite
participation being a legal requirement, less has been done to ensure
participation of people using ICT tools despite the rapid growth in technology.
None of the samples had achieved the highest level of participation of engaging
citizens in decision making. Further with a view to improving e-participation
the research established that compatibility of tool to user experiences,
citizen awareness and complexity of tool have significant correlation to level
of E-participation. The research recommends that government institutions need
to scale up efforts to realize e-participation through software design. Careful
consideration ought to be given to the research findings in trying to achieve
higher levels of e-participation.

 

Keywords—MDAs – Ministries,
Departments and Agencies ;UN – United Nations;ICT – Information and
Communication Technology; E-participation;

I.    
 Introduction

Citizen participation is considered as one of the hall marks
of democracy dating far back into early forms of representative government.
Participation are means used by the public to have their voices and ideas
included in decision making in matters affecting their livelihoods1. It aims
to bridge the gap between citizens and governments by providing avenues through
which citizens are engaged in public decision making, avenues by which
information is disseminated to them and avenues by which they engage the
government in meaningful consultations. Citizen participation is a form of
participatory democracy and indeed many governments across the world strive to
uphold democracy2. 

Milakovich notes that participatory democracy implies
citizens being involved in governmental decision making and should be
encouraged and expected3. He notes that citizen participation exists in
various forms including providing information to citizens and getting
information from them, involving citizens in public decision making and
providing means for citizen consultation4.

Public participation is a political principle that lies at
the heart of the Constitution of Pakistan 2010. The constitution provides
various regulations that serve to ensure citizen participation is upheld5.
The Constitution in Article 35 grants allows citizens by virtue of right to
access information held by state agencies. With information from the state it
follows that citizens will be more aware of government activities, the services
it offers, how public utilities and monies are spent and many others. The
constitution also requires that counties promote participation in all processes
within a county6.

When ICTs are used to promote citizen participation, the new
concept is referred to as Electronic participation (E-participation). ICT is
viewed as having the ability to empower people in relation to citizen
participation. E-participation allows individuals who cannot access the
government agencies and public officials for purposes of getting information,
giving information and making their voices heard or influencing decision making
to do so7. These individuals, who in the traditional forms of participation
e.g. public meetings were considered to be otherwise invisible and silent, get
an opportunity to be visible and to be heard. E-participation therefore has the
potential to reveal the diversity of the society voice and range of opinions.
This potential benefit of e-participation is the driving factor for its
adoption by various countries8. 

Indeed the recently launched Pakistan ICT Master Plan (2014)
identifies the importance of ICT in realizing the goals of the Pakistan
Constitution of ensuring participation to help realize democracy. In addition
world intergovernmental bodies such as United Nations and European Commission
have been at the fore front in pushing their member states to adopt
e-participation. This push is very evident in rankings such as the UN
e-participation index and the European commission e-participation guidelines9.Software
design is must for the designing the exact and right type of tools  for E-Participation.Lack of software design
created a crtical issue in the participating the E tools.

II.   
LITERATURE REVIEW

Citizen Participation involves goal setting, strategy
formulation, policies, monitoring and evaluating government services. As noted
by several authors and in-deed world intergovernmental bodies such as UN and
European Commission, ICT has a big potential for improving citizen
participation and achieving the goals of participatory democracy –
transparency, accountability and increasing citizens trust in government9.

This section highlights topics that are relevant to this
study. It gives an explanation of what the constitution of Pakistan says in
relation to citizen participation, it gives a summary of the UN eparticipation
index, highlights similar studies that have been done, explains the benefits of
eparticipation and ends by giving a conceptual framework that was adopted for
the study10.

It is said information is power and indeed citizen
participation focuses a lot on provision of information to citizens. Citizens
need to be made aware of events touching on them11. For citizens to
contribute and participate effectively there is need to furnish them with
adequate information in the format they understand. Failure to disclose
information delinks citizens from development. It also creates room for
corruption. For effective engagement, citizens need to be equipped with the
requisite knowledge & skills on how they can participate12. This
information includes information on available channels. Omolo  notes that technological capabilities of the
communities are part of capacity building

E-Information – This refers to provision of information by
the government. The information cuts across policies, programs, laws and any
information that could be of interest to the public. The index evaluates
whether tools exist for information dissemination. These could include online
forums, chats , email or any other tools13.

 

Fig 1.4 User Of The Tool

D

 

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