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Social and Philosophical aspects of E-governance Paradigm Formation for Public Administration

Por Vitaliy Baev
Número 42

A certain incompatibility of the administrative paradigm of the state of the development of society is also characteristic for economies in transition. The acceleration of information exchange between participants of communication relations, lack of time for developing effective administrative decisions, the emergence of non-standard system problems are signs of the contemporary state administration in Ukraine. Thus, the pressing issue of today is respective search for new approaches.

The article reviews the new electronic governance paradigm, which appeared within the framework of post-industrial concepts of society through:
1. Explaining the essence and principle approaches to the formation of post-industrial concepts in modern society.
2. Carrying out a world outlook-methodological analysis of e-government as a principle and functioning mechanism of the post-industrial concepts.
3. Examining electronic governance as a new paradigm and model for the functioning of an information society in the context of philosophical approaches.

Post-Industrial Concepts: Essence and Principle Approaches to Its Formation
It has been generally recognized that society functions and develops with the assistance of certain administrative mechanism, the formation of which according to Stefanov (1976) is mediated by means of production. Thus, a certain type of administration always corresponds to a concrete period in history with different political and legal content. Herein the level of the organization of administrative mechanisms determines the level of the development of society itself.

The historic reinterpretation of governance paradigm preceded the appearance of new conditions for performing public administration. With the complication of the social structure of society, the bureaucratized forms of public administration, which were predominate during a considerable period of time, began to loose their effectiveness and to transform respectively.

The present development of human civilization, based on achievements of scientific technical progress, had already reached such a critical stage, which prompts humanity to more often resort to the search for qualitatively new, intensive forms and methods of human interaction, which would mark the beginning of a new (intensive) stage of globalization, the basis of which would be made up of the intellectualization of the economy and exchange of information between its immediate subjects - people (Privy Council Office, 2002).

Naturally, other qualitatively new paradigms and technology of global social administration are already required today. Many of them have prototypes in present-day practice (strategic analytics, social and information monitoring, e-government concepts, situation analysis centers, and others) (Slyadneva, 2002).

Changes, characteristic for the new society and which condition the development of new public administration paradigm are under the consideration of many contemporary philosophers. It is namely such changes (and today not only and not so much within the framework of national borders) are urging government toward reforms and the introduction of new principles of their activity and organization, and therefore to the development of practical introduction of a new public administration paradigm.

The study of changes in western countries resulted in the development of a concept on post-industrial development of society. In describing modern socium, the majority of supporters of the post industrial theory are focusing attention to processes, which preceded its emergence, reforms in the production spheres, changes of the nature of human activity, improvement of basic social relations and appearance of new political and social elite.

The idea of technical mutations, which have a multi-aspect impact on social progress, has received recognition in modern philosophy and sociology. In the 1960s, David Bell, the American sociologist, propounded the theory of post-industrial society. He attributed to factors of the new society theoretical knowledge as the organizational source and cybernetic revolution, which conditions technological progress. David Bell determined five initial specific changes and components of his prognostic model as follows: 1) transfer from production of goods to the production of services in the sphere of economy; 2) advantage of the class of professional specialists and technicians in the employment sphere; 3) determinative role of theoretical knowledge as a source of innovation and regulatory policy in society; 4) control over technology and technological assessment of activity; 5) transformation of new intellectual technology into an instrument of systems analysis and decision making theory. According to David Bell, intellectual technology envisages the use of algorithms as rules for solving problems in contradiction to intuitive assertions. Examples of this are the theory of games and systems analysis (Bell, 1986).

A. Toffler (2002) proposes in his futuristic concept a somewhat different approach to the search for new era contours. The author puts forward the notion that humanity is proceeding to a new technological revolution. A new wave, which leads to the appearance of a super industrial civilization, will replace the first (agrarian civilization) and second (industrial civilization). Large scale and intensive transformations affect the economy, policy, culture, and the practice of education and thinking become different. According to Toffler the contemporary third wave is an information society. A prominent role in this society should be assumed by the services sphere, science and education. The public institutions and technology of administration in existence today should be fundamentally reconstructed. The fall of the old style of administration is also being accelerated in business and everyday practice. Traditional means of influence are ineffective. The structure of power is taking on a mosaic nature, creating a more flexible system with centers of power, which is constantly changing (Toffler, 2003). Attributed by Toffler to the contours of the new civilization are: 1) information (flexible) technologies, which qualitatively transform the infrastructure of society and life of people; 2) a demassificated society, in which classes loose their significance, and thousands of minorities, which have a temporary nature of existence, create different transitional forms; 3) anticipatory democracy, which guarantees the participation of individuals in the formation of models of their own future; 4) transnational institutions, which solve global issues: departure from national-state seclusion of universal markets with free displacement of goods, people, ideas and culture.

Researchers, in concentrating attention on the transformation of human values in the information society, single out that in contrast to an industrial society, a characteristic value for which was the consumption of goods, the new society forwards time as such a value. Radical organizational progress, from industrial type corporation to so-called “adaptive corporations,” which in the maximization of profits see not only economic achievements but also social benefits, is taking place in the system of human activity. Herein they promote innovation and form creative style of work.

The increase in the scope of information, differentiation and specialization of knowledge make the process for the establishment of an information society of the respective new governance objective and regular. The establishment of public administrative paradigm of information society is aimed at adapting administration to the further increasing flow of information: accelerating the process of decision making and optimizing herein the expenditure of resources, and making the mechanism for decision making self-regulating.

Processes of active reformation of public administration, which were characterized as a change of the role of the state in relations with citizens, were observed in the countries of Europe and North America in the last decade of the XX century. Bureaucratic principles of traditional administration were criticized and reinterpreted during the development of new models of public administration.

Thus, for example, the gradual departure from bureaucratic paradigm of governance resulted in the emergence of a movement in the United States of America at the turn of the 1970s of theoreticians and practitioners in the sphere of public administration, which proclaimed the ideas of social equality, taking into account of the thoughts of the minorities and their respective participation in representative bodies, increase in the participation of citizens in the adoption process of government decisions and new forms of organization (Kernaghan, Siegel, 1991). The movement for new public administration emphasized the important roles of street-level bureaucrats, orientated at the needs of the client. The very term “street-level bureaucrats” appeared thanks to the gradual transfer of power from state authorities to quasi-government organizations. Street-level bureaucrats are teachers, police officers, social welfare workers who regulate access to government programs. Contrary to civil servants they function according to less formal procedures, but essentially influence the formation of government policy. It is possible to realize that a government program is the product of sooner the lowest quasi-level of the power hierarchy than the highest. Herein the street-level bureaucrats function in such a complicated manner that it is impossible to regulate the rules of their behaviour (Blau, Marshal, 1987).

The principles of administration within the framework of bureaucratic paradigm were brought in question in the trends of those times: “managerialism,” “new public management,” “market oriented public administration” and “entrepreneurial governance. The main goal of these models was to attempt to create a more flexible and effective market oriented system of public administration, directed toward the client- individual.

The formation of new principles of administration further increased the spread of information networks in society. The sense of the new public-administrative paradigm emerged from attempts to overcome the very dichotomy of relations at the state-individual level.

Different states, depending on their existing level of scientific and technological development, focus attention on the solution of different aspects of public administration adaptation to the new conditions or factors, which give certain signs of their existence and further development (and because of this have to be taken into account ahead of time). Thus society develops its own public-administrative paradigm. Herein the indicative reasons and goals for the introduction of new principles of governance remain similar for many societies.

As it was mentioned on the scientific and applied seminar on formation of democratic and efficient public administration in Ukraine (2002) the problems of public administration, replacement of its paradigm today cannot be fruitfully discussed without taking into account the fact that public administration is a certain function of state bodies or society on the whole. The certain context, in which it is considered, is a methodological triangle, the summits of which are man, society and the state. The development process takes place depending on how relations are being built within this triangle ... The way out of the critical state [which emerges under conditions of domination of any of the corners] is possible only by replacing this principle as the principle of public administration. Harmony, equality, symmetry of the sides, which interact, and not the principle of rivalry should function. The nature of these three elements is also changing. The process of globalization is beginning in society. Super-state, super-national structures and such are being developed that national governments involuntarily become their hostages. But we should understand that consciousness is also changing. Man wants to become a value in him, and not an instrument for the realization of strategic goal, regardless of how attractive it may be. He does not want to put the sense of his existence today outside the boundary of existence itself, does not want to turn into abstract human material.

A certain nonconformity of the administrative paradigm of the state of development of society is also characteristic for Ukraine. The acceleration of information exchange between participants of communication relations, lack of time for working out effective administrative decisions, emergence of non-standard system problems are signs of contemporary public administration in Ukraine both on the local as well as national level. Therefore an urgent task today is the search for new approaches.

E-Government as a Principle and Functioning Mechanism of Post-Industrial Paradigm
The electronic reorganization of public administration generates profound interest all over the world. The development or establishment of e-government is taking place in Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, as well as Costa Rica, Qatar, the United Arab Emirate, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic and many other countries.

The European Union supports interdisciplinary research and developments in the sphere of information society and technologies, which will help to transform government institutions and civil services in Europe, increase openness and effectiveness in the public sector (European Commission, 2003). Thus, in 2003 a four-year plan of research in the e-government sphere was worked out in the EU. The list of its topics was developed around two major problems in the sphere of e-government: 1) improvement of government services for individuals and business structures; 2) organizational transformation. Among contemporary priorities are electronic governance and respective organizational changes in governance principles and structure of the state. What is electronic governance?

It should be pointed out that there does not exist a synonymous determination of this term. The sense of the notion can be varied depending on the position of the author. Thus in order to study the problem, it is important not only to acquaint oneself with relevant scientific literature (as testified to by practice, in the main written in English), but to take into account the approach, in the framework within which this author is working.

Three major approaches to the understanding of the main term have been distinguished today in world scientific literature on electronic governance.

The first approach, within the framework of which the development of e-government actually began, has electronic commerce as its source. A large number of practitioners, as, for example, Mike Hernon, Vice President of the New York E-Government Program, define e-government as “use of information technology for direct rendering of public services to consumers all round the clock and 7 days a week.. The customers can be an individual, business establishment, or even a government institution. The e-government renders services in such a way, which is most convenient for the consumers, and at the same time allows to carry this out at an essentially smaller price.” The definition of T. Pardo (2000) is similar: “E-government is a transformation of the rendering of public services through the use of technologies.”

Representatives of the private sector share such, the most simplified view on electronic governance, first and foremost. The understanding of the nature of a state proceeds from the fact that it has all the signs of a big corporation: it has a budget, expenditures, revenues, stockholders, and at the same time, clients - individuals interested in maximally inexpensive and accessible public services. According to this approach the government, as a big corporation, should aspire to satisfy the interest of its taxpayers, and with this aim in mind, to raise its efficiency, and as a corporation, should increase its capitalization, replacing the work models by more technological and effective models. The e-government within the framework of this approach is considered from the point of view of practical use of information and communication technologies for improving the process of rendering public services. This very approach was reflected in the first statements of politicians for the development and introduction an e-government. Thus in 1993, US Vice President Albert Gore, in his speech emphasized the introduction of an e-government namely through the use of information technologies of financial and other commercial spheres in the public sector (Gore, 1993). In general the appearance of the first school was conditioned by the western practice of applying successful business administrative technologies by the public sector with the further adaptation of these technologies to the specific needs of the state.

The second approach can conditionally be called “technocratic.” It proceeds from the perception of e-government as an organization of a certain (high) level of informatization. An example of such an approach is the definition given by O. Baranov: “E-government is a government in which the entire complex of both internal as well as external ties and processes is supported and guaranteed by relevant information and communication technologies” (Baranov, 2002). O.Shevchuk and O. Golobutskiy (2001) define the term in a similar way: “E-government is a system of local information networks and segments of global information network, which provides the functioning of certain services in the real time regime, and makes daily communication of the individual with official establishments maximally simple and accessible”. Hap M. Cluff (2002), head of the Department of Information Technology of the Norfolk Municipal Council points out that prior to introducing management, directed at the buyer or system of e-government, the establishment should focus attention on the automation of all internal processes, and such automation of all internal processes is fundamental, as this, actually, is electronic governance. Thus, electronic governance within the framework of the second approach is considered from the point of view of its technical possibilities, which emerge as a result of the use of new technologies. Henceforth electronic governance is technological governance.

The third school, which is becoming more widespread in western literature with the years and being gradually recognized in Ukraine, assigns the role of one of the innovative technologies of governance to the electronic rendering of services, and information technology - the role of a tool for the transformation of government (Atkinson, 2003). Electronic governance has the broadest content within the framework of this approach, insofar as the dissemination of principles and approaches to electronic governance is accompanied by the restructuring of the entire system of administrative processes, overcoming of stereotypes of bureaucratic culture. This should be promoted by administrative reform, which is aimed at modernizing the system of public administration, and reformation of the civil service, which promotes the transition to a new for Ukraine model of the supremacy of the individual, his needs and expectations in relations with civil servants.

Thus, electronic governance is examined as a new administrative paradigm (model) in the knowledge age within the framework of the third approach. Such a definition is being upheld by the governments of developing countries in their vision of respective state policy, for instance the Canadian Privy Council Office (2002), and international organizations.

Actually, the difference between the definition of approaches lies in the deep study of the problem. The third school, which has the broadest context, takes into account the electronic provision of services, and use of information and communication technologies for improving the work of the government.

It is necessary to point out that the notions of electronic governance and e-government in literature written in English were only differentiated as of late. Due to the polyvariancy of the English language these terms in many publications are being used as identical, but according to the context it can be understood that under “e-government” the author has in mind not a body of state power or local self-government, but a new system of governance principles, correlative with new technologies and digital possibilities.

With the development of the terminological basis in the sphere of e-government the authors more and more clearly formulate the difference between electronic governance and e-government. For instance, Thomas Riley in his works (2001, 2003) proposes to first define electronic governance, and then later e-government. In the view of the author electronic governance is related to the concept, views and issues around the functions of the government, while e-government is connected with specific practical structures of the government, which introduce such concepts in practice. E-government can be the most productive variant of the ordinary government, if it is well introduced and managed. Electronic governance can be developed in joint administration, if it is well built and supported in the proper manner.

On the example of a historic analysis of American public administration Donald Kettl (2002) also presents the difference between e-government and electronic governance, taking into account that the government is an institutional structure, which society uses for the transformation of political programs into action programs and legislation, and governance is the result of the interaction of the government, civil servants and individuals through the political process, process for the development of state policy, working out of programs and rendering of services.

Electronic administration is more than just simple civil services technologically modernized or linked up to the Internet. The methods to the electronic administration system are only being developed today, as governments and individuals throughout the world begin experimenting and learning how to use new information and technological means. The sphere of electronic administration includes new methods of management, new ways of discussing and adopting decisions on issues pertaining to strategy and investment, new means of obtaining an education and acquaintance with public opinion, as well as new schemes for organization and provision of information and services, indicate Martin Ferguson and John Rain (2003), associates of the Institute of Local Governance Research at Birmingham University.

Electronic Governance in the Context of Contemporary Approaches
Western researchers are developing a range of issues connected with new governance paradigm within the framework of the third school

Osborne and Gaebler (1992) proposed a governance model, which proclaims the principles of government-catalyst and self-government of the community, according to which politicians should give the community the opportunity to cope with problems. This model also views individuals as buyers, which focus main attention on government services. This impels civil servants to establish partner ties with groups of individuals and nongovernment organizations in order to work out administrative decisions and efficiently render public services.

The burden of operating expenditures, which are levied on civil servants and individuals, is an obstacle to holding broad consultations with the public. The most widespread characteristics of the bureaucratic system are: 1) division into subunits, which is taking place according to functional characteristic; 2) clear hierarchy structure of power; 3) availability of a system of rules, which determine rights and obligations; 4) existence of system of standard procedures for execution in possible working situations; 5) depersonification of relations; 6) dependency of the staff selection and its advance on technical knowledge (Starling, 1991). The Weberian model for the organization of power and administration enjoyed dissemination first and foremost thanks to the economic effect of its introduction. Operating expenditures for communication and coordination in such a structural scheme are lower thanks to optimisation and division into departments. The Weberian approach encourages professional specialization and maximizes effectiveness and possible economy. More so, thanks to the introduction of rules, adjustments and hierarchy supervision the bureaucratic model decreases the possibility of unintentional mistakes and adventurous behaviour of civil servants, as well as guarantees an impartial approach to clients.

Moreover, under present-day conditions that have a constant lack of time, the main not renovating resource, the civil servants see an undesirable burden in the intensive attraction of individuals to the decision making process. The individuals also can without particular desire take part in the decision making process. New information technologies help to essentially reduce time and other operating expenditures of the parties. As a result principles for rendering public services are transformed within the framework of the new paradigm. As pointed out by A. Tat-Kei Ho (2002) administrators of the public sector concentrated attention within the framework of the traditional bureaucratic paradigm on the efficiency of internal productivity, functional rationality and departmentalization, hierarchical control and administration, based on rules. According to the electronic governance paradigm public sector administrators are displacing the accent from production needs (for instance, cost efficiency) to satisfying users and flexibility in the rendering of services. The new paradigm stresses innovation, organizational changes and entrepreneurship. Public service becomes less and less standardized, public services are rendered according to individual orders, taking into account personal needs and preferences.

Governance, which was built according to new principles, received the name electronic at the initial stages of research. A more narrow term “network governance” is beginning to be used more often in further researches.

On the example of the economic development phases of America, Robert Atkinson (2003) demonstrates that every one of them produced a new organizational paradigm both in the business sphere, as well as in public administration. The growing industrialization of the economy in the 1990s brought large-scale reforms of public administration at central and local levels together with the growing role of the Federal Government. Mass production, post-war economy of corporations brought a “New Course” (policy of Theodore Roosevelt government) and “Big Society (program of President Lyndon. Johnson), based on the idea of a centralized state and paternal role of the government. But the very nature of the contemporary new economy made the hierarchical bureaucracy unable to solve pressing problems and reply to the call of the times. Day and night the economy, which is characterized by entrepreneurship, competitiveness, swift changes, use of networks, new technologies and less hierarchy, correspondingly must also be a model of governance. The major task of governance is to assure that the complex networks produce socially desirable results. This means the need to replace the concept of hierarchical bureaucratic government with the concept of the government - manager of state policy network. Herein such networks include all responsible players, including government agencies of all levels, quasi-government and other non-profit organization, enterprises and, even, individuals. The new technological system proposes tools for creating new governance system, which correspond to the above-mentioned organizational, economic and social conditions. Instead of solving state affairs with the assistance of teams, control over the fulfilment of rules and introduction of programs, the governments can use information technology for building a self-governing systems, promoting the functioning of markets, providing people with information and creating accounting systems. Atkinson indicates that governance should be transformed into six main trends: 1) from bureaucratic government, based on strict rules, to innovative and flexible government; 2) from bureaucratic programs to jurisdiction of social enterprises; 3) from “top to bottom” control to ascending complex system, capable of adaptation; 4) from bureaucratic decisions to decisions on market mechanisms; 5) from information, controlled by bureaucratic apparatus to information freely accessible to each and everyone; 6) from conformity of rules to responsibility for results. Atkinson formulates own six signs of the new governance paradigm as follows: 1) innovation and flexibility; 2) transfer of power to the nongovernment sector; 3) strict limitation of the sphere of state regulation; 4) creation of an administrative system according to self-regulation principle; 5) free exchange of information; 6) management, directed toward results.

New models of public administration are oriented at the broad use of delegated powers as to adoption of administrative decisions and use of budgets, introduction of teamwork, and network structures of administration. Correspondingly the new paradigm prompts organizational transformation of government structures and civil service reforms. Indeed, as indicated by V. Knyazyev (1990), the new technological method of production should guarantee not only material conditions, but organizational form for social-historic development too.

Electronic governance has a practical significance for state sector institutions. First of all there exists the impossibility of the traditional government to adequately react to the dynamic nature of network economy and society. As a result, national governments are loosing the adequacy of own activity, their activity threatens new transformed institutions of global socio-economy. Secondly, the network economy and society bear a change of the nature of relations. State bodies already occupy the highest step in the hierarchy of society, they interact with other sectors of society and separate individuals on the horizontal level.

The analysis carried out in this research allows to make the following conclusions.

1. It was adduced during the consideration of the essence and main approaches to the formation of a post-industrial paradigm that the complication of social organization led to the development in western countries of a concept on post-industrial development of society. The idea of technical mutations, which have a multi-aspect impact on social progress, received recognition in modern philosophy and sociology. In describing modern society of the majority of the supporters of the post-industrial theory attention is focused on processes, which preceded its emergence, reforms in the production sphere, changes in the nature of human activity, improvement of basic social relations and the appearance of new political and social elite. In paying great attention to the transformation of human values in the information society they indicate that contrary to industrial society, characteristic value for which was the consumption of goods, the new society puts forth time as a characteristic value. A radical organizational advance is taking place within the system of human activity.

2. In conducting a world outlook and methodological analysis of the e-government as a principle and functioning mechanism of post-industrial paradigm it was established that the increasing scopes of information, differentiation and specialization of knowledge, makes objective and regular the process for the establishment of the new governance, which corresponds to the information society. The new state-governance paradigm is aimed at adapting administration to new conditions: increasing flow of information, limitation of time for decision adoption, lack of resources and emergence of new system problems

3. The result of the study of electronic governance as a new functioning model of information society in the context of philosophical approaches revealed that singled out in world scientific literature were three main approach to e-government. New research on electronic governance models is taking place within the framework of the third, most widespread school, which views e-government as a new governance paradigm in the knowledge age.

Public sector administrators concentrated attention within the traditional bureaucratic paradigm on the efficiency of internal productivity, functional rationality and departmentalization, hierarchy control and administration, regulated by hard-and-fast rules. According to electronic governance paradigm public sector administrators are moving the stress from production needs (for instance, expenditure efficiency) to satisfaction of users and flexibility in rendering services.

The spread of respective philosophical and methodological principles (innovation, organizational changes and entrepreneurship etc.) and approaches to governance are accompanied by the reconstruction of the entire system of governance processes. Included among the trends of transformation of governance is transfer from a bureaucratic to an innovative and flexible government; from independent fulfilment of government programs to jurisdiction for their fulfilment by private social partners; from “top to bottom” control to ascending information exchange system, capable of self-development; from control over the provision of information to free exchange; from evaluation according to samples to evaluation as to results.

Thus, the analysis, which we carried out, of the social and philosophical essence of the formation of new post-industrial paradigm pointed to a significant number of fundamental developments on this problem, as well as significant number of problems, allowed to formulate new world view and methodological foundation for studying such problems in the context of the development of modern philosophical science. The topic, which was the subject of this paper, has not been sufficiently studies and thus requires to be further research in the future.


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Vitaliy Baev
National Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine,