Universal online government services is the goal by 2015 through a planned all-purpose website.
In just a few short years, new small businesses will be able to apply for their permits and access other services electronically via a planned new government website that will automatically forward their information to the relevant state agencies.
The e-government portal will provide the public and local businesses with more convenient access to one-stop information and services.
Unlike the more conventional paper-based registration for new startups, the e-portal will encourage greater participation in democratic institutions and processes while improving the quality of state services.
"The goal is for Thailand to offer universal government services online by 2015, allowing public access via any device around the clock," said Sak Segknoonthod, director of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry's recently established Electronic Government Agency (EGA).
|file taxes with the Revenue Department|
The EGA is already playing an important role as technology adviser to state agencies while coordinating efforts among them.
A UN study on e-government readiness ranked Thailand 76th globally last year, slipping from 64th in 2009. The country also dropped from third place to fourth within Asean.
"Legal issues and broadband availability are major constraints impeding state agencies from offering full e- services," said Mr Sak.
The EGA will assess all e-government services this year while encouraging greater use of information technology and IT professionals in government agencies.
Early this year, it conducted a survey of 700 e-government services, with the results showing a distinct lack of interagency communication.
Of the total, only 5% were able to provide anything resembling full services with form submission and inquiries accepted, while 3% had some level of multimedia interaction.
The vast majority, 92%, offered only a basic service level such as posting information to be read on the website.
As a start, the EGA will introduce its first e-service this year, the "national single window", allowing citizens to access electronic data and share and integrate information among 35 state agencies and private organisations in the areas of import, export and logistics.
International cross-border data sharing is also in the pipeline.
Led by the Customs Department, the national single window will provide one-stop service for documentation procedures for exporters and importers.
|check the breadth of services on the all-purpose e-government portal|
The system will reduce many time-consuming manual processes and cut transport costs for the current 125,000 exporters and importers in Thailand by at least US$3.2 billion annually.
The shortened time frame will improve companies' competitiveness, especially for SMEs, in turn strengthening the country's overall competitiveness.
Mr Sak said the EGA will extend its reach to handset devices in order to accommodate the increasing numbers of mobile users.
Kiosks will be set up to help expand e-government service to remote rural areas.
"Thailand now has 20 million internet users, while the other 45 million have no access," said Mr Sak, adding that the EGA will work with Thailand Post branches nationwide.
To date, the EGA has provided 120,000 e-mail accounts for civil servants. Mr Sak said planned cloud services will allow officials to choose their storage, server, operating system and database software on a pay-per-use basis.
This will eliminate current IT constraints, particularly time-consuming procurement procedures.
In October, the EGA will test government cloud services on its existing internal data centre as a pilot project using Microsoft Office 360, the online version of Microsoft Office.
"then we'll evaluate the results and provide services in line with existing laws," said Mr Sak.
He said the EGA has asked cloud service providers in Thailand including TOT Plc and CAT Telecom to assist by using their networks. This will allow the agency to manage service quality while not having to invest on its own.
The infrastructure for the cloud services will be a collaborative effort including a government backup site and disaster recovery service paid monthly or per use without an upfront investment.
Mr Sak said adopting cloud technology will increase IT use among state agencies and ease the IT staff shortage.
"At the end of the day, cloud computing will an IT response to the changing needs of agencies. IT staff will switch from an operational role to systems analysis," Mr Sak added.