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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

E-Government Mapping: Overview of the Lebanese GovTech Interoperability Context and Potential

Source SmartGov
Saturday , 26 February 2022
Design: Mahmoud Younis

Following the recent report E-Government Mapping Research: Overview of Lebanese GovTech Readiness and Respect for Citizen Privacyreleased in November 2021, addressing issues related to the security and data privacy provisions, SmartGov and the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) continued their GovTech readiness assessment. The following report tackles issues related to interoperability, a key enabler in e-government. 

Interoperability was acknowledged in Lebanon back in May 2010, when the Council of Ministers and the European Commission signed a donation agreement approved through Decree 3443 to enhance the competitiveness of the private sector in Lebanon. That was the nucleus to the unique ID Number, as per Law 241 – 22/10/2012 “Adoption of a unified identification number for each citizen before public administrations, institutions and municipalities.” Due to socio-economic factors and institutional barriers, it took almost five years for the Council of Ministers to determine rules and procedures for the adoption of this law through Decree 168/2017, although there were available human and financial resources as a result of many agreements held with international donors. 

For almost a decade, many interoperable platforms were announced and piloted and millions of dollars have been spent on the topic of interoperability but failed to come to light and reach their stated goals. After monitoring the evolution of interoperability in the Lebanese government platforms across more than a decade, we can conclude that despite the availability of funding and resources, the results and outcomes are barely measurable and failed to meet the minimum set of goals.

The financial and human resources provided for this transformation would have been sufficient to fully digitize the Lebanese government. The failure to do so causes citizens and businesses to waste time and money and further lose trust in government, undermining the image of public service provision and creating opportunities for petty corruption to be entrenched in the everyday relationship between the citizens and officials. Yet, even basic effective complaint mechanisms do not exist.

The main lesson learned from the administrative reform projects is that they should not be developed in the absence of overarching political reform or under circumstances of limited political support. 

The model proposed in this report captures the differences between technical, semantic, and organizational interoperability while highlighting the cross-cutting impact of legal, political, and sociocultural issues as influencing factors. If e-government system designers or even donors better understand the problem of interoperability and account for context-dependent influencing factors, e-government efforts might then eventually succeed.

The Samir Kassir Foundation dedicates this report to the memory of Gabriel Deek, one of its founding members and the President of the Lebanon Internet Society. He was a relentless fighter to put Lebanon on the map of tech progress and digital transformation.

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