e-Government in the Philippines:
Benchmarking Against Global Best Practices
Emmanuel C. Lallana, PhD
Patricia J. Pascual
Edwin S. Soriano
With Assistance From
Katherine B. Nakpil
Many Filipinos do not look forward to dealing with government. Many are
frustrated with the bureaucracy and its myriad agencies handling different
functions. A recent survey of business executives rated the Philippines “as
having a pattern of worsening bureaucracy.”1 The bureaucracy is seen not only
as ineffective, but also wasteful. According to a United Nations study on public
administration in the Philippines, public opinion generally regards bureaucrats
as not honest, not transparent and not neutral.2 Mahar Mangahas of Social
Weather Stations reports that “in the past decade and a half, corruption has been
the second-most common subject of public dissatisfaction with government, after
government failure to control inflation.”3
While many efforts have been initiated to make government services more user-
friendly and more effective and efficient, many of these initiatives have been less
In other countries, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is being
deployed to make government more effective, efficient, and transparent. ICT is
not only helping make better governments but also providing citizens more
information on their governments. Leaders in the e-government movement are
demonstrating that by combining technology with new ways of operating,
government can be much more effective and responsive to citizens.
What is e-Government?
E-Government refers to the use by government agencies of information and
communication technologies (ICT) that have the ability to transform relations
with citizens, businesses, government employees, and other arms of government
in the delivery of services. For the World Bank, it is the use of ICT to improve the
efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of government.4
E-Government is the use of electronic media in the facilitation of government
processes. It covers a wide range of applications making use of multi-media
broadcasting, radio networks, computer networks, mobile phone communication
technologies, and other similar electronic devices.
Internal information systems of Government agencies, information kiosks,
automated telephone information services, SMS services and other systems all
comprise e-Government services. All these are applications of Information and
Communications Technologies (ICT) to improve the services of the Government
towards its primary clients: the citizens.
Singapore’s Government Electronic Business Centre (GeBiz), set up in June 2000
to simplify government procurement and tender activities, exemplifies e-
Government. With this integrated, web-based e-procurement system, suppliers
and tender bidders enjoy a broader access to government tenders and quotations.
Public sector agencies also enjoy the benefits of making electronic purchases of
commonly-used items from shared period contracts. Singapore is currently
developing one-stop services which make it easier for businesses to deal with
government, whether it is registration of businesses, application of building
plans in the construction industry, or even getting public entertainment licenses
from the relevant authorities from a single website. These e-services will result in
significant time savings: the time taken for incorporating a company will be
reduced from 4 days to 1 day, while the time taken for processing a public
entertainment license will be cut from 8 weeks to 14 days.5
In examining e-Government, it will be useful to distinguish between an Internal
ICT application and a Front-line ICT application for e-Government. Thus, e-
Government may be classified according to where the ICT solution is applied.
With respect to any government agency, there are Internal ICT applications and
Front-line ICT applications for e-Government.
Internal ICT applications for e-Government are solutions for streamlining in-house
processes. Processes such as data encoding, file retrieval, document processing,
data transfer, and other administrative tasks all exist in a government agency.
These tasks may be accomplished more efficiently through the introduction of
Internal ICT applications may further be categorized as Government-to-
Employee (G2E), or Government-to-Government (G2G).
G2E includes services such as internal information on demand, reports via laptop
or Palm, information systems for timing-in and checking of attendance, on-field
data-logging and remote data uploads and downloads.6 Examples of G2G are
inter-office teleconferencing, Wide Area Networks for geographically displaced
offices, centralized clearance, licensing or accreditation from various offices.
Front-line ICT applications for e-Government act as interface between the
Government and Citizens or Businesses. Front-line ICT applications interact or
transact with the Citizen via electronic media.
Front-line ICT applications may also be categorized as either Government-to-
Citizen (G2C), or Government-to-Business (G2B).
G2C services are all services wherein the citizens interact with the government
through ICT. These include information or transactions accessible via websites,
processing of applications via kiosks, agency hotlines or call centers, online
voting or council meetings, government payments with commercial banks,
application status updates via landline or mobile phone, and the like.
Through Singapore’s e-citizen portal (www.ecitizen.gov.sg), Singaporeans are
able to access about 540 government services pertaining to business, health,
education, recreation, employment, and family. The e-citizen portal is divided
into categories based on the real-life needs of every individual, with every single
ministry and statutory board providing e-services through the same portal.
Singaporeans now have a one-stop access to government services without having
to navigate through the bureaucratic jungle. A few of the popular e-services
offered are: submitting application forms for purchase of apartments, searching
for school information, employment search, career development, and voter
CVISNET – Central Visayas Information Sharing Network (www.cvis.net.ph)
“aims to promote and enhance the development of information and
communications technology in the Region 7 through the establishment of a
common exchange hub that will interconnect all government and non-
government agencies through the Internet.” Established in 1998, CVISNET
assembles different services and information relevant to Region 7. There are
online services such as news, relevant information about the region, and an email
service for the CVISNET community. It has an Information Center that provides
links to government sites, NGO websites, regional reports, statistics, business
guides, investment and industry info, directories, schools, municipalities and
barangays in the region. It brings together various government services, too.
Local price watch, business application forms, investor’s guide, as well as forms
required by government are available through the web. The e-Procurement link
connects to the Procurement Service. There are health statistics and news
provided by the Region 7 DOH office. The NEDA Region 7 office posts its project
monitoring reports on the CVISNET website. CVISNET is also connected to
BARANGAY.NET – a community-based project that aims to develop and
implement a flexible, local approach to community development using
information and communications technology (ICT) to promote connectivity,
access, capacity building, and content creation. It also serves as a gateway for a
number of NGO sites in the region.
G2B, on the other hand, refers to ICT-enabled trade or services between
government and business. An example is the Philippines’ Electronic
Procurement System (EPS), also known as e-Procurement
(http://www.procurementservice.net). EPS currently serves as the official
system for public bidding opportunities by the Philippine government.
Eventually, the system will be extended to support other aspects of the
procurement process including direct purchases, bid submissions, central
accreditation, and payments.
The key difference between Internal and Front-line ICT applications is whether
the application is directly accessible to the public. Front-line ICT applications are
interfaces between the government, its citizens and other relevant publics. These
applications should be readily accessible and easy to use. Internal ICT
applications are mechanisms within the agency that make their internal
processes more efficient. It is possible for an agency to have a state-of-the-art
Internal ICT infrastructure but very poorly implemented Front-line ICT interface.
On the other hand, a good Front-line ICT interface is an indication of a fairly
sophisticated back-end infrastructure able to deliver good quality Front-line
E-Government is a tool by which limitations of time, distance, and cost are
reduced, thereby enhancing citizens’ access to government services. Citizens
will no longer have to wait in line to claim birth certificates, licenses or visas.
Citizens will have better access to public government information such as
application requirements, study and employment opportunities, policies and
regulations. The availability of these services will be extended outside the brick-
and-mortar office and beyond the eight-hour workday of the government
Gyandoot: Community-Owned Rural Internet Kiosks
The Gyandoot project in Central India was launched on January 1, 2000 with the
installation of a low cost rural Intranet covering 20 village information kiosks in five
blocks of the district. Later, more kiosks were set up. The entire network of 31 kiosks
covers 311 Panchayats (village committees), over 600 villages, and a population of around
half a million (nearly 50% of the entire district).
User fees are charged at the kiosks for the services provided. Local rural youth act as
entrepreneurs, running these information kiosks along commercial lines.
The following services are now offered at the kiosks:
• Agriculture Produce Auction Centers Rates;
• Copies of Land Records;
• On-line Registration of Applications;
• On-line Public Grievance Redress;
• Village auction site;
• Transparency in government, and
• Other services offered at the kiosks include on-line matrimonial advertisements;
information regarding government programs; a forum for school children to ask
questions; ask an expert, and e-mail (free for information on child labor, child
marriage, illegal possession of land belonging to Scheduled Tribes, etc.).
To enhance the economic viability of kiosks, they are being given licenses to vend
government judicial stamps, and delegated powers to write petitions. In addition, a public
awareness campaign has been launched in the district to promote the kiosks.
Agricultural produce rates, land records and grievance services are the most popular
features of the kiosks, accounting for 95% of their use. A few examples can underscore the
benefits of the kiosks to the rural population:
• A complaint costing Rs. 10 brought drinking water to a tribal hamlet of 39
• A cow sold at an auction for 3,000 rupees;
• 256 milch animals vaccinated in one day in response to an urgent e-mail alert;
• Access to market rates leads to better deals, and
• Greater computer literacy.
Reference: World Bank’s E-Government Site
E-Government initiatives also contribute to citizen empowerment by making
information about government processes and decisions easily available, and
allowing information-sharing among people and organizations, and between
citizens and the civil service.7 Well-informed citizens are better able to hold their
governments accountable. Thus, governments are compelled to improve the
quality of services, expand accessibility of these services, and increase
responsiveness to their constituents.
Cristal Government Initiative – Public Funds information on demand
The mission of Argentina’s Cristal government initiative is to disseminate on-line, and in
an easily understood format, all information concerning the use of public funds. This
includes information not only about the amounts of money devoted to different programs,
but also how these funds are administered.
The Cristal website was specifically created to fulfill the mandate of a law that requires
that the State make available "to whatever institution or interested person" the following
information related to the administration of public funds:
• execution of budgets, to the lowest level of disaggregation;
• purchase orders and public contracts;
• financial and employment data concerning permanent and contracted staff;
• an account of the public debt, including terms, guarantees, interest costs, etc.;
• outstanding tax and customs obligations of Argentine companies and people;
• regulations governing the provision of public services, and
• all information necessary for the communitary control of social expenditures.
It is a primary goal of the Cristal program to create a better informed citizenry that can
exercise more effective control over their political representatives. While the content of the
website is directed to all citizens, journalists are a particularly important audience for the
site, as newspapers and television enable a much wider dissemination of its contents.
Reference: World Bank’s E-Government Site
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH INFORMATION
Many Government services rely on information passed among different offices
within a department or across departments. The large amount of information
and paperwork required results in an environment ripe for red tape, an
inefficient bureaucratic workforce, and ineffective delivery of services. With ICT,
both the government bureaucracy and citizens are winners in the battle against
the paper trail. E-Government, through the integrated operations of
government agencies, allows the wealth of knowledge and data exchange to be
more easily accessed (whether public or secure) by the appropriate offices or
individuals, thereby reducing redundancies of information flows, and resulting
in overall increased productivity.
DagangNet.com: Malaysian e-commerce service provider
Implemented in 1993, the Port Klang Community System or PKCS facilitates a paperless
exchange of business documents between the government, port authorities, port operators,
shipping and forwarding agents, and banks. It also enables electronic financial
transactions for payment of customs duties.
With PKCS, there have been tremendous time and cost savings, not to mention the
dramatic improvement in efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity. For example, it used
to take two staff about half a day to prepare a 10-line item invoice for submission with the
manual system. With PKCS, it takes an average of 15 minutes by a single data entry clerk.
All PKCS messages conform to the internationally accepted UN/EDIFACT standards. It is
the first system in the world to combine EDI messages, security equipment and features
and a smartcard to facilitate electronic customs duty payment. Soon, Port Klang users will
have the option of a web-based front-end application in line with the market bias towards
In the PKCS model, customs represents the government while the other members of the
community are the private sector. In conducting trade documentation and cargo clearance
processes using electronic means, we have an actual e-government application running.
Today, the volume of electronic transactions conducted by the e-commerce community at
Port Klang stands at some 30,000 transactions a day, making PKCS an overwhelming
success. A total of RM3.8 billion in customs duty payments have been transacted via the
electronic funds transfer (EFT) facility. PKCS has created a ‘paperless’ transaction
environment for the Port Klang shipping community. As it is now, Free Zone procedures
using the same infrastructure, are already 100% paperless. Customs is preparing for a
PRODUCTIVITY AND INTEGRATED OPERATIONS
totally paperless environment in the near future.
Integrating the operations of government agencies also improves transparency
in government. E-Government minimizes redundancies in information flow,
eliminates duplications of functions, and improves adherence to proper
government procedures, thereby reducing opportunities for corruption. This,
matched with a well-informed citizenry, will help reduce the bureaucracy’s
dalliances with corruption and will help lead to a higher sense of accountability
among government officials.
ICT and the Philippine Government
Computerization in the Philippine government dates back to 1971 when the
National Computer Center (NCC) was established by Executive Order 322.8 In
1978, NCC was designated the primary agency in the government with the
responsibility of directing IT use for national development and rationalizing
computerization in the country. Its functions include technical and professional
IT assistance to national and local government agencies, the IT industry, SMEs,
and civil society.
In 1994, the National Information Technology Council (NITC) was created and
designated as the central policy body on ICT matters in the country (through
E.O. 190). NITC was later reorganized on 23 February 1998 (E.O. 469) as the
highest planning and policy advisory body on IT matters. In 1999, the NCC was
tasked to provide NITC with professional and technical support.
In 1998 the government launched IT21 which outlines the country’s action
agenda for the 21st century. The plan promotes e-governance and encourages the
outsourcing of government ICT projects to stimulate industry growth. That
same year, the Electronic Commerce Promotion Council (ECPC) was created in
recognition of the country’s need for a coordinating body to enhance public-
private partnerships to promote and develop e-commerce in the Philippines.
An important milestone for ICT development in the Philippines and for e-
Government in particular is the enactment of the e-Commerce Act (Republic Act
8792) in June 2000. This law defines the Philippine government’s policies on
electronic transactions and provides the legal framework for enabling the
country to engage in e-commerce. It also mandates government online by June
2002. While the e-Commerce law also gives NCC a role in policy planning and
implementing the e-Commerce policies, it was the Department of Trade and
Industry that was designated as the lead government agency in promoting and
developing e-commerce in the country.
In July 2000, a Government Information Systems Plan (GISP) was approved and
adopted as a framework and guide for all computerization efforts in government
(EO 265). The GISP aims to create a system of governance that will lead to:
• Faster and better delivery of public goods and services;
• Greater transparency in government operations;
• Increased capacities of public sector organizations, and
• Proactive participation of citizens in governance.
The GISP was to be implemented in three phases: Phase 1 - Setting Up the
Enabling Environment; Phase 2 - Building the GISP Information Infrastructure;
and, Phase 3 - Sustaining GISP. Phase 1 was envisioned to be completed within
5 years of the plan’s adoption (or 2005).
Also in July 2000, the Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Council
(ITECC) was created out of the merger of the NITC and ECPC. ITECC was
placed under the Office of the President, with the Department of Trade and
Industry Secretary as Chairman. The creation of ITECC recognized the need to
ensure a more streamlined and focused formulation and implementation of ICT
policy. ITECC was also designated as the central policymaking and coordination
body for the implementation of the GISP. In 2001, ITECC was reorganized with
the President replacing the DTI Secretary as ITECC chair. The DTI Secretary and
a private sector representative were both designated as co-chair.
ITECC has an e-Government committee
that is looking into developing Online
Government Frontline Services, e-
Philippine ICT Bodies
Commerce Act Compliance, and the
Development of a Government Portal. 1971
NCC established by E.O. 322
NCC as primary agency to
The committee is also reviewing the
direct IT use in gov’t &
charter of the NCC.
computerization by P.D. 1480
NITC created by E.O. 190
Among the policy changes that the 1998
ECPC created by E.O. 468
ITECC is promoting is the establishment 1998
functions via E.O. 469
of a Department of Information and 1999
NCC designated technical arm
Communications Technology (DITC). The
of NITC via E.O. 125
creation of a DICT is seen as crucial in Mar 2000 NCC moved to DoST via E.O.
developing and promoting a policy and
legal environment, as well as an effective July 2000 ITECC created by merging
and efficient regulatory regime that will
NITC and ECPC
May 2001 ITECC re-organized, President
help shepherd the Philippines to the
forefront of the global information
Despite the Philippines’s early start in computerization, its foresight to identify
the crucial role ICT will play in the country’s development, and the
accompanying progress made in various government ICT policies and initiatives,
many of our neighboring countries have overtaken the Philippines in the use of
ICT in government.