The fifth regional meeting of the Working Group II on E-government and Administrative Simplification took place in Manama, Bahrain on 25 June 2009 at the invitation of the Government of Bahrain and in collaboration with the OECD. This event followed the Seventh High Level Seminar on Improving Take-up of E-Government Services: Challenges, Solutions and Good Practices, organised on 24 June 2009.
In particular, the meeting focused on whether e-government and administrative simplification are seen as opportunities for change in challenging times for many countries around the world due to the current financial and economic crisis. As the use of information and communication technology (ICT) is seen as one of the drivers for economic development, and the use of e-government as the main motor for improving government functions and the broader efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector as a whole, the purpose of the meeting was to explore how different countries have reacted to the current economic environment with regard to e-government development and implementation. Participants were therefore asked to comment and discuss the issue of e-government and administrative simplification in light of their own national experiences with regard to the following questions: the worldwide financial crisis and its impact on e-government policies as well as strategic priorities, funding, planning, and implementation of concrete e-government projects.
Moreover, the meeting was an important occasion to provide the opportunity to the OECD Secretariat to inform and update delegates on the major events and activities carried out within the framework of Good Governance for Development (GfD) with a particular focus on e-government and administrative simplification events organised since the last meeting of the Working Group 2; to provide the opportunity to Arab delegates to update their colleagues on ongoing activities and current developments in their country in the area of e-government and administrative simplification since the last meeting; to discuss the priority areas for the near future and propose new activities.
Finally, the meeting focused on reprioritising the activities of the Working Group II for the biennium 2009-2010, based on the outcomes of the discussions and in view of the forthcoming MENA Ministerial Meeting and, most of all, taking into consideration the effects of the global economic crisis. Participants were invited to indicate the activities that their country would be interested in participating and/or organising in 2009-2010.