GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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GCC governments responding to public needs: Progress and limitations of public administration reform
Paper Proposal Text :
GCC governments responding to public needs: Progress and limitations of public administration reform

In this paper, the authors outline some of the successful reform efforts of GCC countries in public administration and the implications of these efforts on the political process. For example, one of the remarkable successful reform areas is e-government. All GCC countries introduced e-government initiatives to improve public service delivery and promote citizen engagement. Technological advances have enabled GCC countries, which invested heavily in broadband digital infrastructure and implementation of e-government applications, to provide services to their citizens through multiple channels (internet, smart phones or contact centres). Initiatives include the UAE’s “Government Portal’ and Dubai’s “Smart Government”, Saudi Arabia’s “Yesser”, Qatar’s “Hukoomi”, Oman’s “Omanuna”, Kuwait’s “Kuwait Government Portal”, and Bahrain’s “eGovernment Portal”; and all six countries have their online portals linked to one another. The result of these efforts is that GCC countries rank, according to United Nations E-Government Survey 2014 , among the top 50 countries globally in e-government with Bahrain leading at the 18th position of e-government development index (EGDI), followed by the United Arab Emirates (32), Saudi Arabia (36), Qatar (44), Oman (48) and Kuwait (49) out of 183 countries. Notwithstanding this success, cherished by GCC governments, the authors argue that GCC countries need to invest more in developing the “capacity” of public administration institutions. Quite often institutions are established based on the vision of the ruling elite, without much thought given to the efficiency, effectiveness or even coherence of public administration. The authors maintain that public administration institutions could play an instrumental role in reforming the political process. In fact, building the capacity of public administration institutions could pave the way for a wider and sustainable political reform that meets the aspirations of the public. For example, by introducing tools such as consultation and impact assessment in policy making, and building the capacity of public administration in these areas, GCC countries could enhance public participation in decision-making and promote evidence-based policy making, especially in areas related to management of these countries resources and wealth. This would also require building the capacity of all societal institutions (formal and informal) to enable them to participate effectively and contribute to better policy making. Meanwhile, it would help address the limitations of the current policy making systems, which are marked by opacity, concentration of decision making at the top of the “political system”, and lack of transparency and accountability.