Thursday, June 26, 2008

International view: government mostly failing online

Earlier this year The Economist released a special report on egovernment, entitled The Electronic Bureaucrat.

The report's conclusion was that whilst there were a few good examples of egovernment initiatives, most could not be considered successful.

It's a fascinating read regarding international views and experiences in the area and flags changes that government needs to make to be effective online, including;
  • personalising services for citizens, storing preferences to make returning easier,
  • delivering 24/7 availability,
  • making online services at least as easy to use as the equivalent offline processes,
  • being as well designed and easy to use as online services provided by the private sector - as this is what customers expect, and
  • engaging with other online services - making content findable in search engines and cross-publishing with online news and social media tools to leverage reach.
This reflects a philosophy of taking government to where the people are, both physically and intellectually, adapting government to meet citizens' needs, rather than attempting to change citizen behaviour to meet the way government wishes to function.

Key points in the report include that technology is only half, or less, of the picture. As much time is required to review and redevelop government strategy, structures and processes as to put in place enabling systems.
One big lesson is that e-government is not just about computers; it involves redesigning the way government works.
The report also suggests that competition is important, and huge scale centralised projects are much less successfully than smaller ones.
Still, the experience of the past ten years suggests a common pattern of which all countries, rich and poor alike, should take note. Centralised schemes tend to work much less well than decentralised ones, and competition is vital.

My key takeaway from the report was that while government around the world sees the importance and value in moving service delivery and citizen interactions online, few have made the structural, cultural and process changes required to fully embrace the channel.

This reflects my own experiences as to why government is slow at embracing social media.

What's your takeaway?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post ... you inspired me to go read the report too (and I've also written a post about it).