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Thursday, September 15, 2016, 09:58

China for web-based govt service system by 2020

By Xinhua

BEIJING - The Chinese government will step up efforts to improve government services via its Internet-Plus plans and aim to set a nationwide web-based government service system by the end of 2020, according to a new guideline by the State Council.

The new guideline was approved at the State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

Internet Plus, proposed by Premier Li, refers to the application of the internet and other information technology in conventional industries, fostering new industries and business development in China.

"We are now living in an age of the Internet. Using Internet tools to facilitate public services is an important step in accelerating governance reform since the Internet is the fastest and most convenient way for public interactions and service delivery," he said.

The idea of improving government services and information transparency via Internet Plus was mentioned in Premier Li's government work report this March. Streamlining government functions has been high on the government agenda since 2013. Officials say it would help unleash economic and social potential, especially since entrepreneurship and mass innovation are set to play key roles in China's structural reform. Internet Plus will alter government functions, allow for better public information sharing and improve public services.

"The internet will not only provide people with more accessible public services, but will also help the government improve its administration," Li said.

Though there has been great improvements using the internet to facilitate public services, there is still large room for improvement across the country. The new guideline is drafted based on field research across eight provinces, mostly at administrative, agricultural and taxation centers.

It was noticed that internet-based governance is still unevenly developed across the country. Lack of government information sharing, regulation inconsistency as well as limited online public services are common problems, while some regions have barely begun to infuse governance with the Internet.

The premier urges governments at all levels to attach great importance to internet-based development and administration.

"The government must promptly respond to people's concern, and those who failed to do so fail in their obligations," he said.

The new guideline has set a goal that by the end of 2017 both central and regional departments will establish an open and integrated internet platform. A nation wide system of "Internet Plus Government Services System" by the end of 2020 should also be established.

There are a number of steps to be taken before Internet Plus becomes the norm.

Firstly, governments should establish a clear list of functions that can be delivered online. More innovation is required in the public service system. Websites for departments at all levels need to be improved with better information sharing. And governments should not require any information that can be uploaded and verified online to be provided in person.

Secondly, government portals will serve as a basis for the integration of government services as well as online services with help from social investments and third party platforms.

Thirdly, more comprehensive regulation for government information transparency is needed while eliminating outdated ones.

Fourthly, online government service platforms should be better converged with local administrative centers, and third-party platforms are encouraged as well as social investments to improve internet-based services.

The guideline calls for wider access of internet facilities, such as optical fiber and 4G facilities. Training on how to use the Internet Plus Model to improve service efficiency will also be provided to government workers.

The premier stressed that information safety and internet security also require further improvement.

"Internet use is so widespread nowadays that the government and the public need to be on the same page," Li said, "or the government's credibility will be at stake."

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