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Number: 71
Year: 2002
Author: Johann Van Reenen, Editor
Title: Digital Libraries and Virtual Workplaces. Important Initiatives for Latin America in the Information Age

V. E-Governments and E-policies

Industries and societies that can make the transition to the new models of creating wealth and value will have greater chances of being successful in the new and volatile world market. A key concept there is that of community. Relations among businesses, businesses to consumers, are key as long as businesses learn to develop themselves among businesses communities that are on-line. These new relationships demand transparency, efficiency and effectiveness. Not only businesses are feeling the pressure of the digital age but the public sector as well.

Citizens from all over the world wish for an inexpensive, transparent and efficient government. The message is simple: it is not enough to make small changes, it is necessary to reinvent it. What is needed is designing a network to improve its performance. Government programs can be distributed over the net and thus improve the quality and reduce costs. Access to public information must be made available to make governments more open, develop a truly participative democracy, regain the confidence of the citizens, and eliminate bureaucracy. Transparency, efficiency and effectiveness should be the new metrics for public organizations. Furthermore, positive effects can be amplified and negative consequences can be mitigated through a participative democracy, with a new sense of responsibility and consciousness, to the exercise of rights and duties, and to the education of all people. Transparency and universal access to information are necessary for interactive creativity and world solidarity. The technological and humanistic perspectives need to be reconciled. One of the great benefits of the Internet is that is the new equalizer, it democratizes, brings accountability, and eliminates intermediaries.

What does reinventing government mean? It refers to a change in quality imposed by the new reality. This new reality is based and determined by ICT, a new economy, reformed international policies, advances in world regionalizations, and a more globalized and interdependent world. Once again, this marks the characterization of the 21st century. This new governance brings agility, accountability, new mindset and leadership, more equity, and solidarity to bridge the digital divide. It must confront head-on the Digital Divide and turn it into Digital Opportunities with Information Technology (DD to DO IT!).

Some of the most significant and immediate courses of actions are up-to-date legislature to foster Science and Technology, protect intellectual property, provide investment incentives, systemic education reforms, facilitate and strengthen regional efforts that eventually will lead to the creation of economies of scale and integration. Latin America and the Caribbean region must create/strengthen its regional effort to present a competitive regional group to other existing regional projects in today’s competitive global economy. New dynamic collaboration, funding mechanisms, and agencies must be established. These agencies must promote project identification, partnering and funding to diversify and expand the capabilities of projects. They must be savvy to play with the new rules of the game called “strategic alliances”. Strategic alliances (consortia) among academia, industry, government agencies, and international organizations are essential.  If done correctly, these alliances will improve the profile of its members by increasing the quantity and quality of innovation, and participation and organization of international forums. These alliances are also important to promote and raise the awareness on the need to create/enhance ideas, sustainable policies and infrastructure. They also must be horizontal, multidisciplinary, reaching across boundaries, aggressive, fostering synergy, and effective, efficient and transparent. These alliances overcome the old model of public versus private.

How can the generation of ideas be fostered and sustained? Where can resources be found? With the appropriate and forward thinking legislature where IP is protected, critical for innovation, an unlimited number of possibilities are possible. We list below a number of sources.
  • National and International Foundations
  • National Agencies for International Development (USAID, JIKA, IICA)
  • Venture Capital, Angels
  • Multilateral Organizations (WB, IADB, UNDP, IACD, CAF, OAS)
  • Rotating Funds (standard procedure in development banks)
  • Fiduciary Funds
  • Congressional Delegations, State and Federal Governments
  • National Science Foundations
  • Non-government Organizations
  • Forums, Conferences, Tradeshows
  • Alumni
  • Strategic Alliances, Associations, Joint Ventures
  • Industry Incentives
  • Intellectual Property Protection
  • Entrepreneurial Centers, Incubation
  • Donations, Grants, Contracts, Credits, Conventional and non-conventional finance
  • Community Funds
  • National Laboratories
  • Industry R&D Centers