The Emperor's New Clothes? - Analysing the Swedish Action Plan for e-Government

Ulf Melin


This paper analyses the National Action Plan for the Swedish eGovernment, launched in 2008, based on three dimensions generated from theory: (1) the relationship between information systems and organizational change, (2) process orientation and (3) coordination. The analysis presents a critical examination of the action plan. The analysis shows that the action plan contains an overall rational perspective on the relationship between information systems and organizational change; several rather specific impacts are forecasted using e.g. e-services in public administration. Rational choices when designing information systems for public administration are assumed to be made based on business needs, citizen needs and business processes. An almost unlimited choice over technological options and an explicit ambition to control the consequences are also outlined in the action plan. The process perspective is also very present in the action plan promoting a horizontal view of public administration and e-services as an antithesis to the vertical, rigid silos often reported in government organizations. The action plan is also found to have an innovative view of IT, but a more moderate and reformist view of internal government organizations. The plan as such represents an overall top-down approach to e-government, providing a framework within which to develop e-government. The customer/client needs are expressed explicitly in the action plan, in several contexts and combined with internal efficiency efforts in a balanced way. Several aspects of coordination are also identified in the analysis, for example regarding standardization.

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