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Macau e-government services development “sluggish”: audit

In a hard-hitting report published Thursday, the Commission of Audit (CA) slams the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP) for its “sluggish” progress in the development of e-govermment services over the past two decades.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

In a hard-hitting report published Thursday, the Commission of Audit (CA) slams the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP) for its “sluggish” progress in the development of e-govermment services over the past two decades.

The report says that back in 2001 the government set up a working group – consisting of officials from a raft of government entities – tasked with formulating strategies and coordinating related tasks by various entities for the development of e-government services. The operation of the working group is coordinated by the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau.

According to the data provided by the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau, the government spent 237 million patacas on the development of e-govermment services, the report notes.

“The development of e-govermment services has been sluggish, which fails to meet residents’ expectations….Therefore, the Commission of Audit considered it necessary to examine the implementation of e-government services,” the report says.

Audit Commission officials examined between July 2016 and December last year how the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau had carried out its tasks for the development of e-government services between 2001 until the end of 2016, according to the report.

The report underlined that the bureau drafted four documents between 2001 and 2016 on the planning for the development of e-govermment services.

According to the report, the four SAFP documents listed a total of 182 tasks concerning the development of e-govermment services. Among the 182 tasks, 61 were of the nature which allowed audit officials to examine whether they were completed as scheduled, while the remaining tasks were of various situations, such as of vague or general natures, according to the report, which points out that therefore its auditors only examined the 61 tasks.

According to the report, the auditors discovered that only 39 out of the 61 tasks had been completed on schedule, or 63.9 percent of the total. The report describes the percentage as low.

Among the 22 tasks that had not been completed, 16 were still awaiting completion more than 10 years after they were first proposed, the report says.

The report points out that since 1994 – when Macau was still under Portuguese administration – the bureau has been tasked with formulating policies for the modernisation of public administration operations and with facilitating their implementation.

“The government first proposed the development of e-government services in 2001. During this period of over a decade until 2016, the government merely kept studying and implementing pilot schemes, which resulted in the very slow development of e-government services”, the report says.

“The situation has adversely impacted the efficiency of the public administration and prevented residents from enjoying e-services” the report say

In the report, the commission also slams the bureau for having failed to act as a good role model as a government entity, as it repeatedly delayed providing the Audit Commission with relevant documents requested by the commission during the audit period – on one occasion the bureau delayed providing documents for six months.

In the concluding remarks, the report says that “during the past two decades or so, the development of e-government services – coordinated by the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau – has failed to respond to the city’s social development. In addition, some basic tasks laid out by the bureau were still at an early stage of development [during that period].”

In response, the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau said in a statement yesterday that it was paying close attention to the opinions expressed by the audit report.

The statement said that the bureau would review its approach towards the development of e-government services, aiming to improve the situation.

The report can be downloaded from the commission’s website http://www. ca.gov, mo/. in Chinese and Portuguese language versions.

 

Photo by Jornal Tribuna de Macau

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

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