The struggles government faces in adopting new technologies

technology - computer
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Technology can be understood as a practical application of knowledge and skill to accomplish work in an efficient way. It may be tangible assets like machinery, equipment, utensils, hardware etc or intangible assets like ideas, innovation, software etc. or a combination of both. In modern days technology has become an inseparable part of our daily lives. Technology is assisting us not only in our personal and household work but also in our professional and business work.

Every individual and organisation tries to ease their tasks using modern technology means, and gain higher efficiency and productivity. So in the modern competitive world, the adoption of technology is the prime concern for both government and non-government organisations.

In the matter of office automation, digitalisation of work procedures, arrangement of digital payment, application of artificial intelligence (AI) and information communication technology (ICT) etc., the private sector seems leading in Nepal in comparison to government bodies. The reasons behind the lagging of government entities in technology embracement are discussed hereafter.

Policy makers’ technical know-how

Most of the policy makers in Nepal are weak in technical know-how so they show insisting nature while building up policies for embracing technology by the government bodies. Without the timely formulation of clear-cut policies, rules and regulations, technology embracement becomes ambiguous and ineffective. Out-dated rules and regulations could not promote new technology.

Non-tech employees’ domination

In most government offices there is a huge volume of non-tech employees due to which several challenges have to be faced by the offices during new technology embracement. It is harder to import & implement advanced technology for employees lacking basic computer skills and digital knowledge. It is costly and excessive to train and develop skills in them so the government offices prefer service contract from outside which make them more dependent on vendors even for minor technical issues.

AI in the digital world
Photo: Mike MacKenzie for Flickr

Lacking own development team

Likewise, most government bodies recruit technical experts to carry out technical functions of organisations through competitive exams, however, they cannot set up their own development team. Consequently, technology cannot be replaced with updated versions as per the demand of time. This means the organisation must either discontinue its service and production or retain its business by purchasing newer technology spending a huge amount of money.

Fewer growth opportunities

Next, in government bodies growth and development opportunities for technical manpower are shrunk at higher levels. In some cases, the technical departments or sections of government offices are ridiculously led by non-tech background managers. Due to fewer chances of promotion and slow career growth, technical professionals are demotivated and they would not excel their performance at the very best level that they can give for an organisation.

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Lengthy procurement procedure

In government offices, the procurement procedure is lengthy and tedious. Purchasing equipment, setting up the plant, hiring technical manpower, operation and maintenance etc. takes too long. Technology is changing day by day so if there is a delay in the procurement procedure there is a high risk of technology phase out and the organisation may have to face unexpected financial losses. To launch demand-driven products instantly, the procurement procedure should be simplified and shortened.

Lack of good governance

File image: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology
File image: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

Government bodies are lacking accountability and transparency. Procurement without the proper analysis of the requirement, ignorance of future scope, fake invoicing, huge operation costs etc. like irregular activities are observed in the government offices which vividly shows that they lack good governance. Without ensuring good governance instant embracement of technology may be misleading and detrimental.

Apart from the above, government entities suffer from slow decision-making processes, bureaucratic lethargy, lack of coordination between concerned authorities, red-tapism, decisions based on kitchen cabinet, conflict of interest etc. as hindrances to modern technology embracement.

In contrast, private organisations have quick decision-making processes, accountable executives, actively working team members, priorities in research and innovation and a proper roadmap for the embracement of rapidly changing technology.

Streamlined service delivery, higher performance and competitive advantage can be gained with the incorporation of emerging and advanced technology. To achieve a synergetic effect in national productivity increment and hence the higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP), government and private sectors should move in tandem embracing the latest technologies developed in the world. This is essential to develop Nepal as a techno-hub as well.

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Adhikari is an IT professional at a reputed bank and a regular opinion writer.

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