Improving Information Portals to Enhance Provincial Business Environment

[2 September 2015] – Within the “Provincial Competitiveness Index – PCI” Project between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vietnam (VCCI) and the United States’ Agency for International Development (USAID), the Provincial Information Portal Assessment – 2014 has been conducted by a team of experts of Economica Vietnam.  The assessment aimed to identify the priorities which provinces need to invest into in order to make portals become effective tools for enhancing the competitiveness of provincial business environment. The Provincial Information Portal Assessment in 2014 helped to find out good practices and things which need to be done to improve to the portals.

A complete set of criteria was developed as the basis for the assessment. The criteria is also based on the prevailing regulations of the Government on provincial information portals, and on the experience in website evaluation of different provinces and ministries. Sixty three information portals of sixty three provinces in Vietnam were analysed, evaluated and ranked by Economica team. Major criteria for the evaluation include the availability and quality of information provided to business and investors, clarity and sufficiency of information on administration procedures, availability and performance of online services to business, and functioning of dialogue between business and provincial authorities. Parts of the result from the PCI 2014 survey was used to combine the portal ranking by aspects and final ranking. A full ranking of the information portal of the 63 provinces are developed with robust analysis and strong participation of evaluation experts.

Key findings

One of the key findings of the assessment is province’s information portal play a very important role in improving the transparency of provincial business environment. There is a very strong correlation between the ranking of the province’s information portal ranking and its PCI ranking. Though the detail ranking will be released by VCCI at a later state, it could be disclosed at this stage that provinces with better performing portals make stronger efforts in providing information and instructions on administrative procedures to business and investors. They also make efforts to introduce new and innovative applications on their websites, e.g. online public services, on-line policy dialogues, etc. The better performing provinces also tend to provide more legal documents related to business and investment.

In less-performing provinces, basic information on business and investment can be found on the portals, however they are not updated. A high proportion of portals provides insufficient information of local leaders or provided without updates for a long time. Many portals only provide maps to the provincial level, while the district map is very necessary for investors or maps are not displayed at the links provided by the portals. There are only few portals publish Statistical Yearbook of the three years preceding the year of assessment which are 2011, 2012 and 2013. This information is extremely needed for investors and businesses to evaluate market trends and to make investment and business decisions.

Most of the portals of provinces and cities are limited in providing online procedures and services. Linkage to the national database on administrative procedures and service is uneven. Some portals have links while some do not. Many portals haven't links to the portals of the customs service, tax service and business registration which offer online procedures and services at levels 3 and 4.  

On-line dialogue between authorities and businesses through portals is rated low at below average in most of the portals. This is far from expectations for the good portals. However, the number of portals allowing businesses to have online dialogue to solve problems online through "voice chat" or "video chat" or online conference is very small (3/63). Most of the portals have tools allowing businesses ask questions about procedures and regulations. However, the number of portals fully and timely posting questions and the answer of the relevant authorities is less. Reviewing and posting comments for policies and laws haven't also been done properly by many portals. Feedback of the portal moderators to the questions of users is worse. Only a few of the administrators of the province’s portal did respond to test email by the assessment team.


The portals of provinces and cities need to be updated on a regular basis. It is necessary to provide more accurate maps to district level. The portals should have full and updated contact information of the leaders at the district and provincial department level. They should provide much more information of the statistical yearbook as the needs of the business. Information on bidding or public procurement opportunities should be made available to the public as well. Search function needs to perform better.

At the home pages of each portal and its component websites there should be clear and visible links to the pages of administrative procedures and public services. There should be also a clear link to the national database of administrative procedures, the portal of the customs service, tax office and business registration. This will help to navigate businesses and investors to online services which are already provided by the agencies at levels 3 and 4. It is necessary to invest in improving the technical infrastructure to meet the needs of online services at level 4 in order to provide more convenience services and minimize the contacts with officials and to reduce corruption.

The provincial portals need to improve its response and feed-back system and to answer questions lodged in by the businesses. Online dialogue should be performed better to help in resolving problems and receiving suggestions. The portals need to strengthen the collecting of feedback and surveying the needs of users, and adjusted for better service.

The best practices

Some best practices have been documented in the assessment report. At the portal of some provinces, updated information are fully provided to the business. In higher-ranked provinces, on-line services are provided properly, especially the services at level 3. In these provinces, there is a team to collect questions and comments sent through the portal and to transfer them to the right agencies for response. The comment and feed-back system operate effectively. Some provinces portals are good at providing plans of land using; on-line services; and business knowledge. Some provinces and cities introduced e-regulation database as part of the portal, thus facilitating the accessibility of the business to legal documents.

The release of the ranking of the provinces’ portal, their scoring, constraints as well as best practices is to be decided by VCCI. It is strongly expect that the release of the report can provide different stakeholders at the national and provincial level a deeper insight into the performance of provincial information portal, thus contributing stronger efforts to improve information transparency, economic governance and the provincial competitiveness of provinces in Vietnam.

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