The National Information Society Agency (NIA) was established in 1987 to construct the informatization of government affair management. The NIA has implemented a plan to informatize government affairs and informatization-related policies. Since being designated the primary agency for constructing e-Government in 2001, the NIA has successfully carried out national activities such as 11 e-Government Projects and 31 e-Government Road Map Projects. As part of such e-Government Projects, the NIA has launched online government services including Hometax (online tax service), the Public Procurement Service (PPS), On-line Civil Affairs Service, and e-People (online service for civil petition and proposals). Kim Sung-tae, President of the NIA, said, “e-Government is not only about IT technology but also national-level innovation. In other words, e-Government is overall business reengineering.” We interviewed Kim Sung-tae, President of the NIA, which has taken charge of informatizing government services and which has become part of the history of the IT industry.
Q: The National Information Society Agency (NIA) has signed an agreement for exporting e-Government systems to 10 countries such as Brunei, Italy, Turkey, and Bulgaria. e-Government system exports are also constantly growing. How important a role is the NIA playing in the export agreements with foreign governments and in exporting e-Government systems? What contribution has the agency made?
A: The NIA has been prioritizing strategic cooperation with major countries for the past 10 years. The agency has been providing its trading partners with IT Official Development Assistance (ODA) and IT and Policy Assistance Program (ITPAP). Approximately 300 to 400 high profile government officials and experts from 30 countries around the world visit the NIA every year in order to benchmark South Korea’s e-Government policies and successes. South Korea has offered e-Government consulting to around 50 countries, implemented education programs regarding e-Government in those countries, and carrying out joint projects with them. As a result, South Korea ranked 1st in the 2010 UN e-Government Survey last year, while e-Government system exports reached 200 million dollars. Out strong e-Government international reputation helped domestic companies land big contracts in foreign countries. The NIA plans to elevate the cooperative relationship between public and private sectors to Public-Private Partnerships so that domestic companies can extend their businesses overseas and take a bigger share of export markets. To this end, the NIA plans to create a variety of programs.
Q: South Korea ranked 1st in the 2010 UN e-Government Survey last year, and went on to win first place in the 2011 UN Public Service Awards (PSA). Foreign governments around the world are moving to benchmark South Korea’s e-Government system. What are the advantages of our e-Government system? What enables our e-Government system to maintain its competitive edge in the global market?
A: South Korea’s governance system is the key to the success of our e-Govern-ment system. Under its governance system, South Korea had taken informatization as the key tool to enhancing national competitiveness, and was able to implement a systematic comprehensive plan for the informatization of government affairs. A choice and concentration strategy, which is rarely seen in foreign countries, is a competitive edge of our e-Government system. Under the strategy, South Korea has rapidly constructed an information highway, chosen e-Government services as a national-level business, and invested intensively in fostering experts of information technology. The personality traits of the Korean population and culture are behind the successful implementation of the strategy. I believe that the passion of Korean people to accept change and the large pool of human resources with excellent academic background available are the driving force that has brought the world’s attention to our e-Government system.
Q: The e-Government system closes the distance between citizens and the government, and increases a sense of connectedness between the two. However, this convenience is confined to a certain group of people. What are the supplementary measures to include old people in the e-Government system?
A: Everyone should benefit from the e-Government system. As part of its efforts to bridge the information gap for the disabled and elderly who have low access to information, the NIA is offering digital education programs, developing content, and creating an environment that provides easier access to the Internet. Furthermore, in order to improve senior citizens’ accessibility to information, the NIA is offering a wide range of programs, such as digital education courses, assistance from retired senior IT volunteers, digital literacy contests for senior citizens, and digital photo exhibitions at digital education schools built for the information under class. In an effort to fill the information gap between the older and younger generations that is being widened further by the increasing penetration rate of smartphones, the NIA is providing senior citizens with education programs on using mobile phones and social networking sites (SNS), as well as giving them more opportunities to participate in community activities, and helping them adapt to the information society. The informatizaton level of households with low access to information was 71.7 percent in 2010. The NIA plans to implement a program to improve digital literacy among the disabled and elderly, as well as support education programs and conduct social integration programs. Accordingly, the NIA plans to lay out a government-led policy for each 50 households in 13,000 villages in rural areas and build a web of broadband internet subscribers by 2015.
Q: With the growing number of smartphone subscribers, mobile phone use is becoming a growing trend in Internet access. The government had constructed a common infrastructure for national-level mobile e-Government. What is mobile government?
A: South Korea ranked 1st in the 2010 UN e-Government Survey last year. In addition, the m-Government report, released by OECD, ITU, and UN this November, claimed that South Korea had established a world-class mobile government. The common infrastructure for the national-level mobile e-Government is the key to building a platform-based smart mobile government. The infrastructure will create a smart society paradigm that brings changes to all parts of society, including lifestyle and business. These changes will be larger than those brought about by e-Government services. The construction of the common infrastructure was planned in the first half of 2011 and will be completed at the end of December of the year. When the common infrastructure was designed, various factors, such as security, were taken into account in order to provide safe and convenient e-Government services. The government plans to provide citizens and civil servants with 917 mobile e-Government services in various fields such as social security, administration, procurement, and tax affairs by 2015.
Q: The government’s public service has evolved from analogue service to computer-based service to mobile-based electronic service. What do you expect the government to evolve into next? What is your evaluation of the performance of the NIA in 2011? What are yours plan for the NIA in 2012?
A: The government has so far monopolized the provision of government public services, but with the emergence of a smart society, citizens will actively participate in managing overall national affairs. In other words, the government will be transformed from a service-style government to a platform-style government. Under a platform-style government, government affairs are managed on the basis of public participation. The platform is the core foundation of a smart society, creating new values through the open innovation of service infrastructure such as networks and systems, and of society infrastructure such as future prediction and governance. The NIA has developed policies regarding informatizing government affairs, and has continued to make efforts to solve national and social issues through informatization, and will continue to do so for years to come. As part of its efforts to informatize government services and enhance the national status of South Korea as an economic power, the agency will have preemptive responses to informatization-related issues and provide strategic support to such responses in 2012. The NIA will take the lead in constructing an advanced system for national affair management based on a systematic prediction of the future. By collecting and analyzing a wide range of data, the advanced system will support the establishment of strategies and decision making regarding important national affairs such as the environment, education, disaster, and security that directly affect citizens.