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2008 egov BROWN UNIV

2008 egov BROWN UNIV

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Published by: Dr. Jimmy Schwarzkopf on Sep 12, 2008
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06/16/2009

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Improving Technology Utilization in Electronic Government around the World, 2008
 
Improving Technology Utilization in ElectronicGovernment around the World, 2008
Darrell M. West
© Reuters/Yuriko Nakao - A visitor places her hands on a tangible earth, a digital globe, at anexhibition pavilion in Rusutsu town, northern Japan.
 
 
Improving Technology Utilization in Electronic Government around the World, 2008
Key Findings:
This report reviews the current condition of electronic government and makes practicalsuggestions for improving the delivery of information and services over the Internet. Using adetailed analysis of 1,667 national government websites in 198 nations around the worldundertaken in Summer 2008, this report studies the types of features available online, thevariation that exists across countries, and how current e-government trends compare to previousyears, as far as 2001. Significant findings include:
 
Countries vary enormously in their overall e-government performance.
In technologyutilization, the United States has fallen behind countries such as South Korea andTaiwan. The most highly ranked e-government nations in this study are South Korea,Taiwan, the United States, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Dominica,Brazil and Malaysia. At the other end of the spectrum, countries such as Tuvalu,Mauritania, Guinea, Congo, Comoros, Macedonia, Kiribati, Samoa and Tanzania barelyhave a web presence.
 
Across the world, 50 percent of government websites offer services that are fullyexecutable online, up from 28 percent last year.
Ninety-six percent of websites this yearprovide access to publications and 75 percent have links to databases.
 
Only 30 percent of government websites show privacy policies and 17 percent havesecurity policies.
Visible statements outlining how a website secures visitors’ privacyand security are valuable assets for encouraging people to use e-government servicesand information. Few global e-government websites offer policy statements dealing withthese topics.
 
Only 16 percent of government websites have some form of access for disabledpersons.
 
Only 57 percent of government websites provide foreign language translation to non-native readers.
Eighty percent offer at least some portion of their websites in English.
 
Fourteen percent offer the ability to personalize government websites to a visitor’sarea of interest, while three percent provide PDA accessibility.
E-government offersthe potential to bring citizens closer to their governments. Regardless of the type ofpolitical system that a country has, the public benefits from interactive features thatfacilitate communication between citizens and government.The remainder of this report reviews these findings in greater detail and closes by makingrecommendations for more effective use of digital technology.
 
 
Improving Technology Utilization in Electronic Government around the World, 2008
1
 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 
ew developments have had broader consequences for the public sector than theintroduction of the Internet and digital technology. Electronic government offers thepromise of utilizing technology to improve public sector performance as well asemploying new advances for democracy itself. In its boldest formulation, technology is seen asa tool for long-term system transformation.Unlike traditional bricks and mortar agencies, digital delivery systems are non-hierarchical,non-linear, interactive and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The non-hierarchicalcharacter of Internet delivery permits people to look for information at their own convenience.The interactive aspects of e-government allow both citizens and bureaucrats to send as well asreceive information.Given the fundamental nature of these advantages, some predict the Internet will transformgovernment. Many have welcomed electronic governance as a way to improve service deliveryand responsiveness to citizens. "Electronic government will not only break down boundariesand reduce transaction costs between citizens and their governments but between levels ofgovernment as well," states Stephen Goldsmith, President George W. Bush's former SpecialAdvisor for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Jeffrey Seifert and Matthew Bonham arguedigital government has the potential to transform governmental efficiency, transparency, citizentrust and political participation in transitional democracies.Many governmental units have embraced the digital revolution and are putting a widerange of materials—from publications, databases to actual government services–online forcitizen use. Governments around the world have created websites that facilitate tourism,citizen complaints and business investment. Tourists can book hotels through the governmentwebsites of many Caribbean and Pacific island countries. In Australia, citizens can registergovernment complaints through agency websites. Nations such as Bulgaria, the Netherlandsand the Czech Republic are attracting overseas investors through their websites.Despite the great promise of technological advancement, public sector innovation hastended to be small-scale and gradual. Factors such as institutional arrangements, budgetscarcity, group conflict, cultural norms and prevailing patterns of social and political behaviorhave restricted government actions. Because governments are divided into competing agenciesand jurisdictions, policymakers struggle to get bureaucrats to work together in promotingtechnological innovation. Budget considerations prevent government offices from placingservices online and using technology for democratic outreach. Cultural norms and patterns ofindividual behavior affect the manner in which technology is used by citizens andpolicymakers. In addition, the political process is characterized by intense group conflict overresources. With open and permeable systems, groups organize easily and make demands onthe political system.The United States has fallen behind many countries in Internet access and broadband usage.According to the 2007 Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard of the Organization forEconomic Cooperation and Development, America lags Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, theNetherlands, Denmark and Germany in Internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Whereas 36percent of Swiss residents have access to Internet subscription services, 31 percent of Americanshave access to the Internet. More worrisome is broadband access. Here, the U.S. ranks 15thamong OECD nations, down from fourth place in 2001. Thirty-five percent of Danes haveaccess to high-speed broadband, compared to only 22 percent of Americans. This limits theability of Americans to take full advantage of the Internet and media-rich applications. To
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