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The policy on information and communication technologies (ICTs) is an important policy field affecting a nationâ€™s competitiveness. Since government efforts, such as the e-Japan strategy by the IT Strategic Headquarters, have attained a certain level of success, ICTs are anticipated to become a tool for reducing regional governmentsâ€™administrative costs, the key to government reforms and the vitalization of regional economies, and communication tools for rural areas.
There are four developmental stages for regional ICT policies: the first stage (1960s-70s) in which the computerization of operations of the government agencies advanced with the advent of general-purpose computers, the second stage (1980s-90s) which saw regional informatization, where ICTs contributed to the development of towns along with the spread of personal computers and LANs, and competition among government agencies with their own model projects, creating a new media boom, the third stage (2000- 2009) which saw the prevalence of the Internet, the start of national strategies around it, the emergence of the concept of “electronic local government”, and progress in the unification of government informatization and regional informatization, and the fourth stage (2010- ) which explores new policy directions in the context of major changes such as the rise of cloud computing and the transition of political power.
Regional ICT policies have succeeded in creating broadband networks, but seem to lag behind in terms of their use, reflected in the usage rates. Also, the policies have issues such as their lack of connection with government reforms, insufficient plan management, and regional inequalities in public services and shared system use.
As the future direction of regional ICT policies the following are important: (1) the independent management of ICT policies by regional government, or”regional ICT strategies”, (2) the transfer of authority to chief information officers (CIOs), the establishment of program management offices (PMOs), and the realization of reforms by linking government reform plans and regional ICT strategies, (3) economic policies connecting ICTs with productivity improvement of regional firms and economic growth, and (4) active use of new technologies such as cloud computing.