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