Can computers defeat wasta?
The study said: “The concept of an e-government in developing countries is still in its preliminary stages."
Making all governmental procedures electronic and offering online services will cut instances of wasta (nepotism) in the Kingdom by 85 percent, according to a study by the University of Sussex in Britain.
PhD researcher Saleh Al-Jubair and associate professor Natalia Belov from the university’s School of Engineering and Informatics conducted a study on the factors affecting the use of electronic governmental services in the Kingdom and the feedback of users of such services, Makkah daily reported.
The study said: “The concept of an e-government in developing countries is still in its preliminary stages.
“Our research will explain the dynamics of interactive electronic systems such as e-governments and the results of the data analysis will provide a guideline for the Kingdom’s e-government system development. We are currently in the last stage of our data analysis.”
The 790 participants who made up the research sample included users of the e-government services, private and public sector workers, and employees of the e-government system.
The study showed that 91 percent of the research participants have used e-services before.
The remainder did not use these services mainly due to the fact that they did not trust electronic services completely.
The study also showed that 42 percent of the workers rated their computer skills as excellent, 39 percent rated their computer skills as good, 16 percent rated them as average, and 3 percent rated them as weak.
A total of 78 percent of the participants said they support the e-government system while 34 percent believed the country was not equipped to run the system efficiently.
However, 26 percent of the participants rejected the idea of an e-government completely.
The study said 80 percent believe an e-government will facilitate their interaction with the government, while 72 percent thought e-government would eliminate wasta and increase equality and objectivity in the government services.
Just over a third of the respondents said Saudi Post was not trustworthy enough to send official documents to government offices while 31 percent trusted the organization.
As for troubleshooting services and technical difficulties, 49 percent of the participants preferred asking help from someone who has used the service already, 46 percent supported the idea of live chat technical support and 48 percent preferred to communicate with the governmental directorate in question via email for technical support.
A total of 84 percent of the participants believed that e-government services would improve their attendance at work because it would reduce the need to take time off work to visit government offices, while another 96 percent said the services would also improve their productivity.
The study said 89 percent believed e-government services would eliminate many errors that occur during government paperwork procedures.
Eighty-four percent of the government employees confirmed that they use e-government services in their work, while 56 percent believed the system might reduce work opportunities in the public sector.
About 59 percent of the government employees said instructions to use e-government services were not clear, 20 percent believed getting things done through the system was not easy, 17 percent said the electronic facilities provided were insufficient and 29 percent said there were too many technical errors in the service.