The development of the internet and growth of information and technology have affected the operations of all organizations. Internet and growth of information technology has increased efficiency and effectiveness of the flow of information to facilitate proper decision-making. Increased bureaucracy, in the operation of government agencies and the complexity of the political processes, has prompted the development of more complex government networks. The need to improve political inclusiveness and participation of the citizens in political processes through online forums, civic discussions and public opinion, has led to development of complex government networks. Bureaucracy in government agencies is different from bureaucracy in general organizations. In conventional organizations, the flow of information is vertical in nature, whereby majority of decisions are made by the top leadership. However, in government departments and agencies other than their role in implementation, the government agencies and department initiate majority of policies formation, new rules, regulations and programs. The current political environment has increased the complexity of policy formulation in government departments and agencies. The system of the federal government, which has large congress with many committees, sub-committees and other interested groups, has prompted the government to develop large integrated systems of the network that will enhance policy formulation (White, 2007).
The government networks utilize data from a variety of sources. The analyzes of such data required large integrated networks, which would be able to amass information from the vast number of sources and convert it to information that can be used in the formulation of policies and decision making. In addition, government agencies and department are highly interconnected. This connectivity of government agencies and departments has led to increased complexity of government networks. Example, when a new regulation, policy or a law are being introduced, it may affect various government department and agencies in its implementation. Therefore, these agencies and the department must be involved in the formulation of these policies.
However, the growth of information communication and technology has faced various challenges of insecurity. The need to improve security of data held in the internet has been a current issue affecting the use of internet in government departments. This has led to development of various methods of protecting data held in hardware and software based information system. The protecting measures, which were taken to protect data, include data encryption, data coding and use of passwords to restrain access. There has also been increased sophistication of the various methods used, so as to enforce data security in the use of internet by government agencies and department like development of digital signatures.
Infrastructure is essential in determining the level of technology that the government agencies and departments can adopt. Therefore, the government needs to install the necessary infrastructure needed to facilitate the use of the internet, so as to enhance information communication and technology. This includes development of wide area networks and local area networks that are connected to strong networks system to enhance efficiency. The wide area network (WAN) is used to facilitate sharing of information over a wide area in the internet where the government communicates with the external environment. Local area networks (LAN) facilitate the flow of information in a single agency; thus, it enhances the internal operations of an agency or a department.
Government agencies maintain various departments, which are given responsibilities based on specialization. Therefore, an information technology department does daily provision of infrastructural services and maintenance within the agency. These departments are responsible of ensuring efficiency, security and provision of infrastructural services for smooth running of government operations. The government also outsources various infrastructural services from the private sector to enhance efficiency. The department also provides advisory on procurement of infrastructural equipment, which is used by the agencies (White, 2007).
Operation of Public Service on the Internet
Government agencies have adopted the use of the internet to enhance provision of information to various stakeholders. Various government agencies have developed websites with all information about the department. Websites are developed from the need to increase transparency and improve dissemination of information to the citizens. The development of e-government has aided economic development and increased efficiency of the running of activities in government operations. This has been done through the development of online applications like online visa application, jobs and e voting. Web-based government programs have developed with the growth of technology, and the majority of the citizenry has preferred to use these programs due to their efficiency. Therefore, these public agencies should ensure consistency, timeliness, accuracy and quality of the information provided in these web-based programs. The web-based programs reduce the operating costs, increase the satisfaction of citizens and ensure consistency and quality of information availed to the citizenry.
Management of government agencies websites is a daunting task and requires planning and resources to ensure efficiency. They are composed of enormous digital files that require management by IT experts; the content of the website keeps on changing overtime depending on new information, citizens’ expectations and development of new technology. Some changes are easy and may not require the knowledge of experts while others are complex and significant and require the knowledge of the experts. The websites describe the organization structure and design of these agencies. It enhances reduction of organizational complexity, since all levels are devolved on a structure, which is well represented based on division of labor and specialization. The websites contain large databases on various operations of the agency, which require complex data base management.
The information found on public agencies websites includes the history of the agency, the leadership, their strategic plan, core values and mission statement. The agencies maintain educational resources, business opportunities, career information and emails to submit various reports on their websites. The complexity of the websites determines the amount of information available in the websites, since, in some websites, all information relating to the agency is found on the websites. The website facilitates the central government track of the performance of operations in the agency, thus, facilitating planning by the central government. The websites also provide current videos of government operations; this enhances development of positive opinions on government operations due to improved transparency.
Skills and expertise is required in running of these websites since the complexity of the operations requires technical excellence. There are various sets of expertise, which the agency needs to maintain like in web hosting, database management, web conferencing and web portal. The issue of security has been of great concern with development of information technology, increased cases of system hacking has continued to threaten the security of agencies websites. The agencies also operate various decision support systems and executive support systems. These arise from the various decisions that an agency makes in its day-to-day activities and long-term planning (Wilson, 2000). These decision support systems operate by utilizing complex database, through data warehousing and data mining to provide accurate, consistent and timely information required for decision-making. The expert support systems are important in areas where experts determine complexities in decision-making by doing complex analysis.
How Public Service Agencies Provide Data, Voice, and Video Capable Networks in WAN
A wide area network (WAN) interconnects various government agencies to form the whole government network. This wide area network connects the various service departments on data, video and voice message exchange. It facilitates efficient, safe, secure and reliable communication between various departments in the government. It supports various applications that facilitate communications between the departments. This wide area network provides a framework, which the agencies can use to access the internet in a convenient and secure means. This WAN facilitates reduction of operating costs regarding use of the internet and enhances interagency coordination and collaboration (Bidgoli, 2004). Activities in various governmental agencies are interconnected, for example, the department of environment conservation and department of health work together to enhance provision of health care.
Both departments may require finance, which calls for the department of finance for working together with the two other departments. WAN reduces the complexities associated with this interconnectivity (Editor, 2010). It facilitates agencies with provision of information communication and technology through accessibility to the internet. The WAN provides a platform upon which day-to-day infrastructural activities of the agencies are provided enhancing agencies to focus on other productive activities. Consolidation of government activities in a WAN facilitates consolidation of expertise to provide security on the system connections; the government is also able to integrate its activities and operations on the internet. Consolidation of government management information systems and database management systems facilitates easy and less costly maintenance through consolidation of expertise (Fulton-Calkins, et al, 2010).
WAN provides interconnectivity between different government agencies, which provide data services. WAN provides remote access connectivity to the agencies, and trusted external third parties, who are able to access the basic applications and hosting services. The voice services available in WAN is comprised of integrated services of both mobile and VoIP. These two services act as an extension to the agency telephony solutions. The video service is composed of the IP TV and video conferencing. The government network interoperability is changing with the introduction of the wireless technology. However, it has reduced cost and increased efficiency, in which government departments access the internet. Video conferencing in government agencies has reduced time wastage and increased efficiency in case of intergovernmental meetings. The voice services are used to facilitate intergovernmental telephony systems at a reduced cost (Gnanasivam, 2006).
Mechanisms Used to Secure WAN
The growth and use of internet in government agencies has increased the vulnerability of information access through the internet. Government agencies have created mechanisms, through which they can protect data held in the internet, as well as reduce the risks of threats. Various risks surround a wide area network includes human errors and design defaults. These are attributed to the majority of risks that organizations face, they may be intentional and malicious, but design defaults may cause errors which may lead to automatic deletion of data. Another major source of risk is the insiders who are trusted to operate the system but end up conducting unauthorized activities and sabotaging the system. They may violate information safeguards, which increases system vulnerability. Natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and fires cause serious risks to the wide area networks. They cause damage to infrastructure used for information flow and damage back up files. The common risks, which most of the systems in government agencies suffer, are the risks of intruders, hackers and crackers. These intruders sabotage the system for monetary gain and obtain access to confidential information. The wide area network is also exposed to malicious software like worms viruses, which are transferred to network through borrowed disks and connection to prohibited networks.
Various measures are adopted to mitigate risks that arise from various sources. Government agencies develop hardware, software, physical controls, management, administrative and procedural controls to enforce security of the system. The agencies develop internal controls that enhance system security issues that may arise from the management and personnel in the agency. The agencies also restrict both providers and users of websites and information from entry beyond certain points. Private information can be protected by use of passwords and restriction to access to unauthorized people. The agencies also develop security policies for the agency, which are intended to implement overall security objectives of the agency, whether implied or express. Development of username and user passwords has reduced unauthorized access to restricted sites of the agency. Firewalls are also essential in management of information between the organization and the external environment; they enhance restriction of information especially coming into the organization.
The agencies have also introduced auditing and intrusion detectors; these are used to monitor the various transactions that are occurring in the agency over a period. The transactions, which are audited, include file transfers and use of the network; these are specially maintained to monitor the internal environment of the agency. Encryption of data is a practice that has been used overtime to protect confidentiality and integrity. Malicious software, worms and viruses damage files stored in the database; they may change coding of data to make inaccessible to the common users. The viruses may also slow the computer and affect the network. Information technology experts should ensure that the network is clean, by checking all incoming software and checking all disks used in the system, so as to ensure they are free from virus. Biometric controls are essential means in protecting accesses to the network; they are effective and efficient in ensuring security in the network.
The agencies have also insured their infrastructure equipments to diversify risks of natural occurrences. This will reduce the loss to the agencies on occurrences of such risks, which may damage the infrastructure. Intellectual property rights have been developed to facilitate innovations and protect infringement of personal rights and encourage innovations. Peer authentication, data confidentiality, and data integrity are common security measures that have been used in protection of a wide area network and information in government agencies.
Inter Agency Collaboration between Government and Non-Commercial Public Sector
Collaboration of government agencies is the interdependence of various agencies through cooperation and coordination of various operations. A wide area network is one of the interagency collaboration where various government agencies are interconnected by a wide area network. Interdependency in government agencies is complex and dense which requires frequent information. Intergovernmental collaboration is based on three factors, which are trust, mutuality, and reciprocity. The government agencies always share tactical information strategically to facilitate policy formulation using collective government resources. Sustainable collaborations are based on trust where all government agencies build trust on each other to facilitate smooth collaboration. Interagency may be facilitated through cross training, multi agency working groups, and data sharing. Interagency collaboration prevents conflicts between various government agencies; this is done by implementation of policies that all the government agencies reflect and share. Government requires the external environment, like expertise and specialist, to operate optimally, improve its efficiency and innovations. The government also operates with the business environment in deduction of taxes and provision of services.
The government has embraced technology in fastening its services to public service. Most of the governments are heavily investing in the technological infrastructure, in order to ensure that public services are rendered without delay. Network infrastructure has become very necessary in running activities and making work easier for the workers. Many infrastructure components have given crucial foundation to the e-government beginning with basic network communication capabilities. Internet knowledge is in wide use, and both the government and even private sectors continues to put a lot of emphasis on the internet technology. This is meant to provide greater capacity in the area such as security and reliability of services. The demand for network infrastructure has facilitated research and development in the government agencies resulting to a dramatic increase in the network bandwidths.
However, most of the government agencies have not put a lot of weight in the research and development unlike the private and some public sectors (Evans, 2002). The attributes of privacy, reliability, accountability and scalability have been so much improved through use internet. When communication infrastructure is improved, interaction with other government agencies will be so much improved. Many activities of the government will be improved through the use of the internet. The research in the government agencies offers chances for improved performance and in the area of fiber optics provide designs and architectures with lower deployment cost. The concept of the economic implementation and policies to the public is more related with the broadband internet access to the public compared to the state of technology (Evans, 2002). The government has also developed domains such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that has been widely deployed in confidentiality mechanism. Further, the system is integrated with other browsers and encrypts, so as to facilitate the data exchange between the user and the SSL web site. Integrity has been so much improved by ensuring the data is protected from the unauthorized people and modifications. The integrity often depends on the encryption algorithms that are augmented by calculation of checksums, so as to be able to detect changes. Moreover, there is a digital signature that is one way of integrity protection because it can show that the data of the person, to whom the signature has been applied, has not been inappropriately altered. The SSL also ensures that the government data and information sent in the form of messages from the browser to the server are protected from hackers or attackers, who may modify the messages. The government has also put measure to validate the user of its property to ensure security of government properties (Evans, 2002).
The government, through its ICT departments, has created a server that hold a list of all passwords and the system requires each person who is the user to put his or her password. However, the method has proved hard as every person is required to register in advance. The authentication can also be achieved through the use of the authentication protocol based on use of private encryption key that is known only to the named individual. The named person will have a certificate issued by a trusted third party of the encryption key that has the user’s identity. The third party is involved in the authentication, but the authority must be trusted by both the government systems and the users, whose identities are being authenticated. To solve the problem of many authorities that are authenticating government properties, and thus, prone to abuse, the government have established system that will enable only one authority. The establishment of a single authority to authenticate government properties will ensure security of the information (Oregon, 2006).
E-Commerce by the Government
E-business has become the cheapest way to transact business. The cheaper the cost, the higher the profit; therefore, government want to ensure that they are able to make enough profit. The e- commerce heavily depends on most of the services that the government has already put in place. For example, the communication services like email and instant messaging, Directory services that provides an easy way of referencing and retrieval of individual information and finally the information dissemination site like the web servers and push technology. The security of the information system is of high standards that ensure the users of the systems are authenticated, and the access authorized (Evans, 2002). The government can also leverage commercial sectors development using web servers, email, and basic directory.
However, government must take good measures in improving the research in areas such as building a large-scale authentication infrastructure that will support all the nationals of the country (Oregon, 2006). The other area, where the government must pay attention, is to come up with back-end information system that will ensure that all the government agencies are tied together. The government has the aim of enhancing transaction-support capabilities, promoting development, and using of common transaction mechanisms, so as to increase or improve access to government-supported services. Therefore, citizens can work with third party, who aggregate information from different government support services on behalf of them. Government, in the past, has been using data in the electronic form, and this ensured that the information is not accessible to all people, but specialized agents only, who often exploit this information (Oregon, 2006). However, through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), this problem will be solved, since it ensures that citizens and business people. who use software, can directly connect applications on their own computer with government services (Gunaratna,2002). Government has also come up with software for crisis management, like data escrow services, which enable public to store important information required in time of crisis. Some examples of escrowed data may include medical records, financial data, family contacts and other essential records that are very necessary and need to be maintained properly. The challenge with this technology is that it sometimes protects the user’s privacy in a situation where the software is putting some updates to improve on accessibility of personal information. Government can easily promote e-commerce and electronic business particularly where the government supports deployment of technology or improves efficiency and effectiveness of these technologies (Oregon, 2006).
Streamlining Government Procurement Services
Most of the government currently buys their commodities in a fragmented fashion that tend to operate more like federation of many small businesses. This procurement that is carried out by the government is worth billions of money (Evans, 2002). The procurement procedure must be made in the right manner, in order to ensure that the government does not keep losing money. Government has also enhanced technological advancement in most of its agencies. This has made procurement easy for these agencies. Government has also secured GSI connectivity to facilitate its operation with most of the departments. GSI is government secure intranet that is managed by purchasing solutions and transferring these solutions via the cable and wireless (Oregon, 2006). The government secure intranet features enable the government to access wide network connectivity that facilitates safe interaction and communication. The GSI also allows data and file transfer between the connected agencies of the government or government departments, local government and even non-governmental sectors (Muelle, 2010). The GSI act like a facilitator in transforming government agendas and enhancing security of procurement and other governmental issues, which improve the welfare of the citizens. Moreover, the GSI ensures that the government information is shared securely by all the government agencies and hence able to support the vision and mission of the government, as a whole (Evans, 2002).
The GSI has helped to improve security of information and assurance of government organs. It also facilitates secure communication via email and access to web based services with other GSI connected organizations. The easy communication enables the issues of insecurity to be reduced, and hence people feel secure where they are. This will impact positively on productivity of the country (Oregon, 2006). Use of GSI reduces the risk of data loss and reduces dependence and use of removable disk or media. Government has put various bodies to protect the information and data of the government. They ensure that the information stored by a government agent are safe and cannot be accessed by an unauthorized person (Barney, 2000). As government turn to e-governing, security of information especially infrastructure has become an issue in most of the countries. Insecurity of most of the government infrastructure service is brought by people with the intention of personal gain. These may include terrorist who attack critical infrastructure for political reasons (Barney, 2000).
This end up destroying government properties and may hinder proper administration of public services. Some others are sabotage, who are ex-employees, political groups who might be against the government, and hence destroy government infrastructure services. The other groups, which can destroy government infrastructure, are the private people who may do that with the intention of personal gain or want to initiate attacks with the government (Noveck, 2009). A natural disaster can also be a cause of insecurity to the government infrastructure services. For instance, Hurricane winds destroy some government infrastructure; thus, hindering proper delivery of the government infrastructure services. Therefore, government must come up with devices or mechanism to protect these effects. Failure to come up with strategies to protect government infrastructure service would mean low citizen satisfaction, poor public services, loss of government funds, corruption of most of the government officials and embezzlement of most of public resources. Most of the governments make use of the cloud infrastructure service to protect most their infrastructure services (Evans, 2002). All the procurement of the government is made in line with the government procurement and approved by the cabinet. In every government, the procurement is done in phases as illustrated (Sikora, 2003). The first procedure is usually the strategic requirements planning. The requirement of the government is usually undertaken within the government through consultation with government portfolios and agencies that are mandated to this by the government. The next thing is the acquisition planning. Here, the government, through its departments, identifies the best acquisition methodology and processes to enable them achieve the best values of funds from the market. After the adoption of the best methodology, the government officials approach the market (Mayer-Scho%u0308nberger & Lazer, 2007).
The market approach can be taken in various forms. It can start by expression of interest or request of the tender. Suppliers are supposed to respond to the government specified requirement and comply with structure of invitation (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1993). The suppliers are supposed to describe the goods or services they intend to supply fully, even though the same information had been provided by the government in the previous tender request (Kahin et al, 1997). The approach to the market must be preceded by an open forum for industrial briefing after all the tenders and contract have been published. The responses for all suppliers are evaluated in a very structure manner ensuring that only the one, where government gets the best value for money, is taken. Some of the items checked are whole cost, technical compliance with the requirement, quality and of the supply, supply capability, compliance with the contract terms and also the previous supply performance. After the evaluations of the responses, the outcomes of the evaluations are released. The outcome will give suppliers, who are preferred, accepted and not accepted. After evaluation, negotiation with the preferred suppliers may commence with the aim of arriving at better terms of contract where government get preferred solution. The final stage or process is the signing of the contract between the government and the selected suppliers (Shih, 2011).
Government network is a major factor that will enable proper running of government activities. Government is in charge of many activities and operations within the countries. Most of these activities contribute largely to the economic growth and development within the country. This makes necessary for the government to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in most of its operation, in order to foster continued growth and development of the economy. Countries that do not have proper running networks are bound to fail, and the economy growth deteriorate. From the above discussion, it has been clearly brought out that the government has many agencies, and manual check of accountability of all the workers are not possible. In addition, some of official want to take advantage of the complicated systems of the government to reduce their effectiveness and embezzle funds from the government (American Library Association & ALA TechSource, 2001).
The use of the internet will enable the government to monitor what the work agencies are doing with a lot of ease, and hence promote accountability and transparency in the government activities (McKinney & Prep, 2001). As stated above, government officials have employed the use of internet technology to improve on the services they are giving to public (Barney, 2000). The numbers of people in the government facilities have increased, and the long queues that used to seen before are no longer there. This is an indication that government service delivery to the public has improved. Proper services to the public will motivate citizens to pay taxes and thus, enable the government to run its activities well. Moreover, when public are contented that their funds are being used in the right way, they are able to engage in more productive activities that are legal to government as they will not hesitate to pay taxes. Government has very critical information about the people and companies; however, if this information is not securely stored, some terrorist may hack this information and cause a lot of damage to the public.
The internet will enable immediate storage and transfer of data once received from the public to backup systems in a different place. Internet security is very important for proper running of government activities. The Internet providers must be trusted by all parties that all the information as stored or as transferred is safe. Further, Internet provider must ensure easy access to the internet, and the internet should be consistent. The government agencies have established very strong collaborations with the non-governmental agencies that have enabled them to improve the service delivery. Government can also do electronic business through the use of the internet. The collaborations of the government agencies and the non-governmental agencies have made easy for non-governmental agencies to establish their business that are meant to improve the welfare of the public. The work of protecting the government infrastructure service is the sole responsibility of agencies, experts and the public, at large. The importance of the network connection to the government activities cannot be underestimated. Government service delivery could be very slow and ineffective (Barney, 2000). Close monitor of what the government agencies are doing could very hard to control. The procurement procedure, which could take a long period, takes only click of a button. In addition, internet enables the government to know about a company before it engages into any tender. The government structure, which is very big to imagine, have been made a small organization that is very easy to control and manage.