The South Korean government, through its Ministry of Information and Communications' iPark division, is looking to strengthen ties with the Philippines by helping the country roll out its e-government initiatives.
In an interview with Computerworld Philippines last week, Adam Tan, marketing director of iPark Singapore, said iPark's government-to-government (G2G) IT project assistance program aims to address specific needs and opportunities in e-government in both the Philippines and South Korea.
"E-government is the use of information and communication technology to transform government by making it more accessible, effective and accountable," said Tan. "South Korea has one of the best e-government systems in place, and we would like to share our strengths in that area with the Philippines."
The official explained that iPark's assistance program includes the development of a feasibility study for an e-government system. iPark will also provide consulting services that leverage the experience of the South Korean government. It will also conduct workshops and seminars where the knowledge and experience in IT of both countries will be shared.
"We also plan to fly IT officials from Philippine government agencies to South Korea where we can show them what we've achieved and train them on-site," disclosed Tan.
Tan said iPark is still in exploratory talks with the Philippine government regarding the G2G assistance program. However, he is confident that a memorandum of agreement (MOA) can be signed by year-end or early next year as they have been getting positive feedback from local officials.
According to Tan, South Korea's own e-government initiative started in the mid-1980s and went through three major stages.
The first stage entailed storing records in digital format, which took the government until the mid-1990s to complete. In the late 1990s, the e-government initiative entered its second stage, which required all government bureaus to use information technology. The third phase, which is still ongoing, started in 2001 and aims to integrate major government processes into a single service.
South Korea also has three major e-government services: government-to-citizen (G2C), government-to-government (G2G), and government-to-business (G-to-B).
For G2C, South Korea has rolled out a government portal which provides information on 4,000 kinds of civil services and processes 393 civil services online. With 30 % of the government's total services processed online, South Korea is expecting to save 1.8 trillion won (roughly U.S.$1.56 billion) in five years. Among the civil services processed online are tax returns and social insurance.
South Korea's G-to-B service is a national e-procurement system that allows suppliers to bid online for various government projects after registering only once.
For the third service type, G2G, the Seoul government has an information system that enables real-time management of national fiscal activities, as well as a network system that connects the country's schools, provincial education offices and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources.
"E-government is for businesses, citizens and the government itself and results in tangible and intangible cost savings," said Tan. He explained that with G2C, governments can reduce the volume of paper that must be submitted to agencies as well as reduce the number of visits to each agency. With G-to-B, redundant processes are eliminated, resulting in more convenient and transparent government service. As for G2G, there is a reduction of workload and redundant processes.
Aside from providing IT assistance to neighboring governments, Tan said the ultimate goal of iPark's Southeast Asian team is to facilitate collaboration and "deal-making" between Southeast Asian and Korean IT companies. "In the case of the Philippines, iPark will facilitate partnerships that will enhance the Philippine IT companies' competitive advantage through the market enabler program," he pointed out.
Bob Chua, chief executive director at iPark Singapore, explained that the market enabler program is designed to enable Philippine IT companies to form value-added partnerships with Korean IT firms to gain greater competitive advantages in the Southeast Asian and global markets.
The program will enable local IT companies, specifically those into software development and systems integration, to quickly build a strong, meaningful and successful relationship with their Korean counterparts. It will also help Philippine firms save time and money by identifying the most appropriate Korean IT partner through iPark's match-making program.
The initiative will also allow IT companies to increase business opportunities leading to higher returns on investment (ROI) and boost business value which will amount to raising revenues. iPark will also assist in arranging meetings during the initial phase.