Networking public entities
The Government Superhighway Network (GSN) connects three government complexes within a 160Km radius and almost all departments and administrations are fully connected with the GSN. All of the 16 provincial government networks are also connected and all of the 232 municipal government networks have been recently connected. However, some small and remote governmental branches require a satellite solution.
Empowering public servants
Korean public servants number approximately 800,000 (including provincial and municipal personnel but excluding military personnel). Office workers comprise 73,000.
Personal computers are used by about 86% of the office workers. All of the PCs are connected with LAN. E- mail addresses are used by about 91% of the office workers. However, Korean public documents are not exchanged via e- mail, but via groupware called electronic document systems. The electronic document systems are distributed to all departments and administrations, all provinces and most of the 232 municipalities. Government is also planning to train all public servants to deal with IT.
Electronic document exchange
Korean departments and administrations have exchanged electronic documents for several years. However, exchanges are limited within a department or an administration because electronic document systems are different from one another. There are 20 different electronic document systems in Korea's administration.
Therefore standards for electronic document systems were announced last year and a number of suppliers upgraded their systems. Cross-departmental document exchange had been undertaken among seven ministries. Now electronic documents are exchanged among the General Service Divisions of departments and administrations. Within 2001 all divisions of the government will participate in the pan-governmental document exchange.
The Korean government made a start on integrated street-level services. There are 21 types of data such as personal ID, vehicle registration, water and sewage, disaster management, regional development, fishing management, forest management, road planning, etc. The databases are managed both by central government and by local governments, and ten of the 21 databases are linked to the Comprehensive Information System (CI) in four municipalities. (The municipalities usually deliver street-level services.) The CI system is established in all of the 232 local governments in Korea. The remaining databases will be linked to the CI system by late 2001.
One of the beneficial results of data linking is exemplified by the Productive Welfare Data Sharing, which will support means-testing welfare subsidies. When the CI system is fully established, it will reduce the documents for applying for a welfare service from 60 to 13, and the workdays for dealing with it from 21 to 3.
Central departments and administrations have their Internet home pages. So do all the provincial governments and practically all the 232 municipal governments. Prominent cases are the Open Procedure Service, the Home Minwon Service, the Local Administration Information Bank Service (LAIB), the Open Plaza Service and so on.
The Open Procedure Service was started in the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which shows the detailed process of office: who files the application, when the application arrives, when the application is signed, where the application stops, why the application is rejected, etc. The service makes the office process so transparent that people are able to forget their doubts and just see public servants at work. The system has been distributed to about 200 provincial and municipal governments so far, as well as to all government entities and local authorities by this year.
The Home Minwon Service delivers 3,300 application forms and provides information on 4,400 kinds of application through a single website. LAIB is an information bank of provincial and municipal governments. The governments present their information in the given formats. The information consists of about 400 items such as the organization, the boundary, the information resources, etc and the number of items will be enlarged by this year.
The Open Plaza Service is providing very high input to the democratic process. All citizens can post their opinions on the Open Plaza and all citizens can read them. People criticize the government and public servants through the Open Plaza, which is accessible by the President, governors and supervisors. These activities influence government policymaking. Some candidates for the Members of the National Assembly lost their membership of the Assembly after the April 2000 general election, as a result of this process. However, the service has some problems.
There are other information services which are delivered by departments or administrations. For example:
The Ministry of Legislation and the Korean Supreme Court have jointly developed the Comprehensive Legal Information Service System (CLIS), and provide relevant laws. CLIS helps people to seek relevant laws, statutes and regulations scientifically and systematically.
The Supply Administration of the Republic of Korea (SORAK) gives much procurement information. Anyone can see the lists of purchase requests or the lists of awards of contract during the period he/she chooses. The contents of bids and contractual information are also open to public scrutiny.
Moreover, information such as cultural treasures, museums and art galleries via the Internet is being established, and an integrated tourist information system will operate by connecting local authorities and travel agencies.
Electronic service is delivered through PC communications, the Internet, telephones and kiosks. The kiosks are located in about 100 municipalities and serve people with a number of certificates. PC communication service is used for 20 certifications, but these services will not be fully developed because of the Internet service. The number of Internet users in Korea stands at over 14 million increasing at the rate of 900,000 per month, mainly among young people in their teens and twenties. 72% of regular Internet users go online two or three times a week. About 70% of the total Internet population are using e- mail. Of those who did conduct online commerce, 50.8% used credit cards, 45.6% bank online payment and only 2.3% made use of some form of cyber money.
Public-key cryptography is fast becoming the foundation for e-commerce and other applications that require security and authentication in an open network such as the Internet and intranet. The new method makes it possible to use PKI technology for a faster broader, flexible range of network-based businesses as well as processing both encryption and decryption.
Notable public services already delivered online include:
The National Tax Administration has developed an electronic filing system for tax returns. The NTA is establishing the E-filing Centre, and receiving applications for e-filing from tax agents. On the other hand, many municipal governments have developed and use an electronic local tax system through which residents pay their local taxes.
An EDI system for processing applications for medical insurance and their appraisal is being expanded all over the country. Hospitals and public healthcare centres will be connected so that they can share medical information concerning blood, organ transplants and contagious diseases. An integrated service centre for the four major social insurance services has been established to streamline the process of billing and charging and to enhance the quality of service.
The Korean Industrial Property Office (KIPO) has developed and started an Immediate Notification System as of July 3, 2000. With the help of the system, applicants can be notified of any physical errors or obvious reasons for refusal of their patent application as soon as they file their electronic application or registration documents with KIPO.
The private sector also participates in the public service. A job information site called Humanpia (www.humanpia.com) is a leading local job information system which has merged with local recruitment information.
These electronic service deliveries are fragmented and imperfect. Therefore the Korean government has set up a new project – "IT-based Reform for Government Systems". The system aims to deliver to people electronic services through a single window. People will be able to make all the requests online concerning their life events by 2002.
The South Korean government has launched an initiative to bridge the digital divide.
Computer education is now mandatory at all primary schools and the government will expand IT training opportunities to all levels of society, including young children and soldiers. The Ministry of Education (MOE) presented a programme aimed at boosting English language proficiency by reinforcing English as the medium of instruction at primary and middle schools. English proficiency is seen as a basic requirement towards achieving IT literacy. The education of soldiers was also addressed. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) requires, all of the approximately 270,000 soldiers to sit for web search specialist certification exams annually before being discharged from the service.
The major goal of the Ministry of Information and Communication is to expand opportunities to those who are apt to be left out of the information age. The high speed Internet network has been expanded to about 200 towns this year. Free public access to personal computers (PCs) will be more readily available. Public libraries and social welfare centres should be equipped with PCs connected to the net in addition to those available at most post offices. A programme that gives free PCs and five years of free Internet access service to about 50,000 children in the lower income group is also being studied. About 10 million workers need to be formally trained in IT by 2002.
The information society brings with it a fundamental change to the framework and the way of living that have been accepted in an industrial society. Thus, the current rules and regulations need to be revised to meet the needs of the new society. An annual survey has been conducted since 1995 to assess which rules and regulations should be revised to create a better environment for the information society. The enactment and revision of 63 legal statutes was completed on the basis of the annual reports from 1995 to 1997. The Electronic Commerce Act (1999) and the Digital Signature Act (1999) were enacted in order to facilitate the widespread use of IT by the private sector and we will present measures to enhance the protection of privacy. Overhauling the relevant legal statutes will be continued on electronic procurement, the management of information resources, telemedicine and geographical information systems, amongst others.