Role of the Private SectorJanette Toral
This article was published in Sun.Star Cebu (March 24, 2006)
In the field of information technology, we have seen how the private sector became active participants in policy development and e-government programs in the country. However, I believe that there should be a clear line as to up to what point should the private sector come into play.
In the area of policy development, I learned that private sector can only provide inputs but in the end, it is the government agency who decides as to which matter or not. This is a valuable lesson I got from no less than Toby Monsod during the discussion on digital signature guidelines.
In this spirit, private sector groups who are fair players and can respect such a process should join. Those who can’t take the idea, that their point of view can’t be accepted at times, have no place to enter in this type of environment as they bring chaos and uncertainty in the community, in the long run.
There are also laws that named private sector organizations as stakeholders in an advisory or a decision making body for a particular e-government program. I believe that private sector organizations should earn their right to be part of such a body or community.
First, they should not have members who are stakeholders, especially bidders, to the potential e-government program to be developed. Else, when bidding doesn’t favor any of their members, they will be put in a political tight squeeze and their motives to question the project will be put in a great cloud of doubt.
Second, they should put their money where their mouth is. Private sector stakeholders who ambitions to become part of decision making or policy advisory bodies that can influence decision on e-governance projects should be equally liable if things go wrong for the project, not simply clamor that government officials involved be sued by the Ombudsman.
Worst, there are private sector organization groups who can bring the whole project down or cry foul but have no accountability, bond, or liability to the project. I’ve even heard of individuals of almost threatening government personnel should their decision favor any particular technology. It is all glamour but no accountability.
It is all right for the private sector organization groups not to have any accountability but for as long as they know where they stand and when they should not overstep their function.