Why Government Websites are Big #Fail

#Fail: One Hell of a mess

Jabran Rafique, other day, wrote issues relating to privacy of online identity and how our Government websites mis-handle it. We have seen other instances too where the lack of professionalism is evident from the work our Electronic Government Directorate does.

If we look at semi-government websites, particularly the educational institutes, we see the misery of students who wait for days if not hours to check their results – because of no response from server due to intense load.

Just previous month, result of class 8th and class 5th for all Punjab boards was not sent to schools and was made available online only. Those who suffered know well that there were students who found their results after a week or so.

It was just this month, when person responsible didn’t update the DNS of around 50 websites, which eventually went offline.

We see miscellaneous virus alerts every other day on Government websites – in short, our government and semi government websites lack the basics; leave alone the optimization of web servers, SEO, making them DoS proof and hack-proof.

We tried to figure out the reasons for all the blunders our E-Government webmasters make; we spoke with several people in public and private sector to collect a set of reasons. We are presenting the crux of conversation we had in brief manner.

Bad Selection

The key reason is the bad selection of professionals. Like any government job vacancy, E-Government jobs are also (allegedly) filled with Friends n Family. Though thousands and thousands of people apply for the job, but slots are usually filled even before the tests. (I can’t prove this, neither anyone provided evidences, but everyone confidently opined this).

For instance, one of our friends happened to appear for a job opening at E-Government Directorate. He told us that there were around or above 5,000 applicants in long queue for initial interview call in Islamabad (Blue Area).

Initially he thought of quitting the idea of applying there (because it was going to take him hours for his turn) but somehow he managed to wait in hot summers in open sky. Continuing his tale he told us that panel asked him three questions – following is the script (as told by him)

Panel: What degree do you have?
Friend: I have done graduation in computer sciences
Panel: Will you work for Rs. 20,000 per month?
Friend: This is low but I can work if incentives are handy
Panel: Will you work for Rs.20,000 in Sukkur?
Friend: No, I won’t
Panel: Thank you very much – we will let you know by mail

No more words on this…

Sense of Public Entity

In private sector, things are buzzed up – tasks are performed in professional way with deadlines defined, for a good reason: All your work will impact the returns of the company/investor.

However if you are in Government sector, you know this loss won’t reflect back to a single entity – hence no one is going to punch your nose.

In simple words, there is not check on employees’ performance, and no one bothers to put extra Burdon over his head.

Lack of leadership

It is observed that team lead is the person responsible for getting the best out of his team. Workers always tend to, or let me say they want to perform low. Why would they put extra effort, when job is secure, they will get paid the same amount of money every month, why would a professional work extra if he is not asked by the lead?

Whole chain of command is responsible for not getting the work done in proper manner. If a fresh grad makes a mistake, and it goes live – it will reflect back to his team lead, manager, director and so on.

Role of Universities

We all know how serious we used to be towards studies. If we talk about professionalism, unfortunately our universities don’t build our minds that way. Though they teach us how to conduct professional tasks, but they don’t give us the vision, proactive approach and leadership qualities.

A Harvard or MIT grad is easily more visionary than our grads – maybe both can work equally well in their fields, i.e. performing any task, but both will reach their goals with different approaches.

Low Salaries

As compared to private sector, government employees are offered low salaries. This is a natural phenomenon that a worker with less return will perform low.

There are researches available that conclude that same professional perform differently with different work environment and most important of all stand the salary that he is going to get at the end of the month.

Salary issue is with all level of professionals at Government institutes, you talk about fresh grads, tram leads, project leads, directors or whoever; they are paid less than their counterparts in private sector.

Now I am not saying that government should increase salaries immediately, but they can work on it by finding out how to best utilize their resources, so that they are paid higher. For instance, re-dig the work force, find out their potentials and get the best out of them, and ultimately pay them higher.

Conclusion

Our officers at Government must realize that our websites are our face for the world. A Spanish guy may never come to Pakistan, but he may visit our websites – and believe me, he is not going to get a good impression about the country.

This example is enough to make one realize the importance of Electronic Government Directorate.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Nighat Dad

    take a look on IT ministry website..how it can serve as official gateway? Where is our dear PM and Honorable President…on this webpage? Where is EGD to maintain our official national assets? I wonder who will take notice of it?

    • cant disclose

      Dear Nighat,

      First of all dont say that honorable president because these 2 words are totally different for zardari and its better to to avoid his name and picture from the moit website so then atleast this department will be smooth.

      regarding website, i would say that they dont have any criteria to select vendor for the website development except under table money and all departmenrs are courrpt. they need very powerfull consusltant with transparent relation in order to make all gov websites powerfull and select right vendor.

      thanks

  • Muhammad Usman Butt

    hey nice work.

  • web hosting pakistan

    Nice writing on the topic. I have also observed that most of the govt. sites never been updated or are usless

  • Malik

    i am agree with the writer that favouritism is a big hurdle in the way of prosparity of pakistan…….if we want to compete the world we have to do a lot more to get on to the top………with honesty, integrity and loyalty.

  • Farigh

    As with all other departments, its clear government can’t manage anything so instead of hiring persons in IT department, this should be done by private firms. Government should only appoint the board of directors and high level members who can select private firms

  • i think this totally depends on their leaders and salaries… mostly in departments you will find that leaders don’t even knows what is mouse :P and they were recruiting Website and programing Heads :P

  • fahad

    Great job Aamir bhaie …..
    Thats so true n this not only counts in Government big fail but it also be the cause of shame infront of the world.

  • Brother internet pr result sahe waqt pr nahe aata ha.
    Aur Nahe Nwfp government ke website pr soba ka nam abi tk pukhtoonkwa ho wa ha

  • x

    its not just in government sector, i see many private sector companies filled with families and friends….. n doing nothing as compared to the salaries they r getting…. while the deserved ones walk door to door of every other company, just to get their Cvz forwarded to the right personnel.

    n one bullshit (sorry abt my wording but this thing really deserved it)that i see every time is INTERNAL HIRING…… job postings r never advertised :S and if they do….the hiring had already been done and advertisements r later published just to make things official. Even i have seen instances where companies advertise and ask for 100-500 Rs of deposit just to send along with the application bundle but in reality there is no job and the companies float such advertisements to make more money and pay salaries of their employees…

    i can just mention a million more shits that happen in OUR INDUSTRY :S

  • Very good article Aamir! One thing is very prominent in all these which even glow itself on tourism website and that is the usage of Google Ads. It more seems like that admins on these websites are just associating their accounts of adsense and trying to earn money through these channel. Its a complete shame to see that tourism ministry and others have ads that are well known to whole world for indirect income source.

    • Well, I could come with some evidence but currently it seems impossible to open any of these now including tourism and official government portal. What a shame!!

  • milkywayer

    such a shame to see the bad condition of government and other pakistani organization websites.

    They look like being created by 12 year old kids (1995 geocities like website designs).

    A big question how the IT ministry is spending all our tax money. And of course, they’ve got Sifarshi ‘web masters’ for all these websites.

  • Faisal Khan

    Jabran:

    Which website in particular are you not able to open. Quite a few websites for the government are hosted with us (just the hosting, so don’t take it out on me on the design/form/functionality of it all).

    But since you cited it was impossible for you to open the websites I would like to know which particular ones.

    Faisal Khan
    CEO
    Net Access

    • Ah good to have you here then! Official gateway http://www.pakistan.gov.pk had never been a good opener in my experience of last 4 years! Before it use to show up at last when one almost is about to close te window! and that showing up usually replaces the URL with IP! Now it’s not showing up at all. Tourism portal at http://www.tourism.gov.pk is not showing up at all and returning similar page not found error. Perhaps for good, it’s better to not these sites loading instead of visitors looking at “never updated” official portals for months and some cases years.

      BTW they were tried on 16.75MB broadband!

      • Faisal Khan

        Jabran:

        Jsut so you know – the GoP websites are based on Geo IP looks ups. Visitors from within Pakistan access locally, and visitors from outside of Pakistan, access via proxy.

        GoP portal is hosted by EGD themselves. There are issues/constraints in their setup and bandwidth allotment to the portal itself, and even local access is slow during business hours. As it is .jsp driven, there is only so much that can be cached.

        Tourism Website is one of the most active websites, which is very heavily accessed, and I am very perturbed that you have not been able to access it. Perhaps if you tried again and checked or you can email me with your IM and let me know your IP when you’re accessing it – so we can check as to why you are not able to load the website (same goes for GOP portal as well).

        In either case, I’d like to help you out to resolve the issue.

        Faisal

        • Thanks for all information. Just to let know, I am student of masters in web development so no one get confuses about anything. I feel it a very diplomatic clarification similar as our governments do usually which simple public has never been able to understand! Also its been a mixed up justification with not so very valid reasons.

          I explain in simple example here; coincidently same day this article came, a 64 year old British sitting next to me asks that I don’t wanna go to India this summer for holidays so how your country looks like? I replied its nothing less than India but you will find it even more enjoyable place for your holidays. I provide him the websites he needs to take a look over basic information about country. Next day he tells me that he had preferred to look over wikipedia and google for information because websites never showed up! I had to spent 2 hours to show him most of worth visiting places from various sources. Now I would also like to plea that stop shouting all the time Northern Areas.. Northern Areas.. We do have forests, beaches and thousand of other stuff.. why not lets make a use of it!

          PS while searching, somehow he got to the ministry of tourism site where he got shocked to know that Taliban has taken over Pakistan’s tourism industry but I had to correct him telling that he is our tourism minister. :D

          And in technical way, a website’s developer & designer always keep the site loading time as priority and look will be second to that; while a hosting company would look forward to 100% up time. In case of say GoP portal, self-server hosting is secure and should be more reliable and accessible since they don’t have any more hosting plans to manage! If this site is .jsp driven then should I consider that its being driven with a direct links to important database servers? That would be even worse case! Or if this is the same site where local infrastructure has to manage their intranet work throughout the day then it simply tells us how wonderful GoP’s IT department is!

          I wouldn’t say that try USA or UK (www.direct.gov.uk) portal as I think they are far better developed in IT but I wasn’t even able to compare our official sites to our neighbours like India (www.india.gov.in | http://www.incredibleindia.org) and Iran (www.iran.ir) etc. They open in seconds and may also be quite usable.

          If you can proceed some words then please let EGD know that now CSS 3 and HTML 5 is almost here and they can redesign the sites better way and make them quickly accessible as well! Thanks

  • It’s about time that the government outsources the websites to a private Pakistani company that excels in this field.

  • kkz

    I will little dis-agree with University roles
    My University Sir Syed University of engineering & technology Support there Students very much & i never seen anyone who belong to ssuet and jobless

    Pakistan Biggest Private Sector university & best In IT….!
    Currently i’m in 2 year of SSUET and get a job in web house

    • Faisal Khan

      I’m sorry, but I cannot relate to your post. How is that befitting to the current thread & this post?

  • jobs

    CEO
    net access.
    this article is very useful specially for newbie. i’m wonder why
    i’m late to reach it :(

  • Akif Khan

    Dears All

    Some points of my friends are valid as i am also part of government, please do visit nwfp.gov.pk Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa official website, let us know how you rate this website interm of government website

  • Shahid

    Last few days I tried to access http://www.pakistan.gov.pk the official website of govt. of pakistan and it seems down, so was most of other ministries websites including ministry of IT. I wonder if anyone in the concerned departments bothers to maintain that.