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OECD assessment: Romania – “neophyte state” in digital governance. Comparisons and problems

de Marin Pana 10.7.2017

Romania ranks 75th in the world according to the United Nations E–Government Development Index for 2016 and belongs to the “Neophytes Cluster” at this crucial chapter for public administration, according to an OECD report. That is the organization which brings together the most developed economies in the world and to which we have applied for accession. That is, we should prove to this organization that we deserve to join a select club. Including by bringing the management of public data to the efficiency level corresponding to 2017.

But the very suggestive graphs presented in the OECD report show a still long way to go for us, both in terms of the level of digitization of public information and the penetration, compared to the EU average and clearly below reference countries for our level of development, such as Portugal, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovakia (see graphs).

Moreover, the evolution of the E-governance Index has been worsening, with declining results in all the evaluations made (every two years) since 2010. With the specialists mentioning that Romania has not stopped making progress, but other countries had a faster advance than us and went ahead.

Therefore, the National Strategy on the Digital Agenda for Romania, set in 2015 and appreciated as very good in theory, is weak in terms of the rhythm of implementing its provisions. The commitment is a strong one, which is confirmed at the organizational level by establishing a Government Chief Information Officer, but the delimitation of tasks in relation to the Ministry of Communications, to avoid overlapping or leaving some problems out, is not clear enough.

Last but not least, the following issues from the OECD report should also be retained:

Although the progress in delivering digital services is visible in some sectors, such as the IT system of the Ministry of Finance, the national health insurance card and the relaunch of the “e-guvernare.ro” portal, a key challenge remains the change from a fragmented to a better-articulated approach of different aspects faced by citizens in their relationship with the state.

The consistency and the clarity in the use of different public websites should be substantially improved, and the concepts mentioned in the report are the development of humanised platforms and the upgrade based on the experience of the interaction with the companies and citizens. Ideas that may seem abstract, but have a much clearer impact on the time allocated, the productivity, and the money lost.

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