To accelerate the development of electronic government, the Office of Computer Clustering Programme (CCP) under the National Science and Technology Development Agency has initiated a project called New Enhanced Application Tools for e-Government (NEAT-G) to set interoperability standards for application software for electronic government.
Many government organisations have adopted ICT to make their working processes electronic, but developments in this area have been done separately. When it comes to information sharing among different organisations, problems occur as various organisations' systems cannot be linked.
CCP has therefore come up with a plan to set a standard for software development so government organisations, even though they use different software, can transmit data across the network.
CCP's director Dr Smith Suksmith said CCP would work with related organisations including government agencies on the user side, Software Park Thailand and local software developers, to set up a consortium to develop the standard for electronic government.
The office has also talked with the Office of Civil Service Commission (OCSC) to set interoperability standards for staff and document flow systems. OCSC is a large user of electronic-government facilities that needs data transmission from other government organisations. Now it faces the problem that all information sent to the office needs to be re-input into its own system.
To make the concept of electronic government complete, Smith said all data and document flow should run smoothly through the network, and to make this happen, a standard was required.
The office will start developing the standard on two applications - HR and the document flow system - and it hopes the draft of the standard will come out in the next six months.
In the development process, the draft standard will be created by the consortium, which will comprise representatives from CCP itself, the local software industry, government users and Software Park Thailand, a government unit which oversees the development of the local software industry.
Smith said the standard would be developed in two parts. The first is the development of a standard to receive information. This involves government users like OSCS and ministries which require data transmission and information sharing from other government organisations.
The second is to set standards for developments by local software developers to make their individual systems work together. The standard is intended to be a guideline for local software developers to develop government software with interoperability.
Smith said from the two application systems, the office also hoped to later set a standard for software development for two other electronic-government applications - the budgeting system and the evaluation system. CCP also hopes to see the standard used in electronic-government application development next year.
The project, Smith said, was hoped to be a starting point to develop a back-end system for electronic government. "Once we can build a strong back-end system which can link the participants together, it will be easier to develop more effective front-end government services for the public," he said.
Electronic government is one of the country's key ICT development areas. In the past, work in this area has been slow. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which conducts an annual electronic-readiness ranking of 69 countries around the world, Thailand was 49th in 2007, falling from 47th position in 2006.
To rank the country's readiness, the Economist Intelligent Unit said it considered not only the number of computers, broadband connections or mobile phones in the country, but also the citizens' ability to utilise technology skilfully, the transparency of business and legal system and the extent to which governments encourage the use of digital technologies.
The ranking had raised awareness that the government needed to accelerate the development of ICT in the country, Smith added.