Although many government bodies are taking steps to implement onlineservices, a report released Tuesday by consulting firm Accenture concludes they still have “a long way to go.”
The study, “Rhetoric vs. Reality – Closing the Gap,” found that only in rare cases can businesses conduct transactions with government entities via the Internet.
Canada, Singapore and the United States significantly outpaced the other 19 countries surveyed and were “innovativeleaders” with their e-government initiatives, including nationwide portalsthat provide citizens with a single point of access to government services, the report said.
“Tomorrow’s e-government leaders will advance by building on these effortsand by learning from other countries’ experiences,” said Accenture globalmanaging partner David Hunter.
Glass Half Full
Despite the advances made by Canada, Singapore and the U.S., Accenture said these three countries still have completed less thanhalf the work required to develop and provide fully mature service anddelivery models as part of their Internet extensions.
While the e-government portals developed by the leading countries are emerging “as a means of bringing order andcustomer-focus to e-government services,” few comprehensive andcustomer-driven portals exist in other countries, the Accenture report said.
“Innovative governments providing online services aroundcitizens and businesses need to realize opportunities to build newrelationships and alliances with the private sector,” Hunter said. “In addition, they need to harness the wide range of benefits offered by e-government, making thecurrent government landscape unrecognizable within two to three years.”
According to Accenture, a number of government organizations have alreadystarted to integrate more sophisticated functionality into their sites andare developing portal models that will eventually allow citizens andbusinesses to gain easy access to cross-agency services.
The U.S. Postal Service is one of the few government agencies demonstrating a high level of delivery servicesand employing customer relationship management, the report found. The postal site allows customers to establish an online postal account topurchase stamps or pay utility bills. Similarly, postal organizations inFinland and the Netherlands ranked high for providing electronic services.
Meanwhile, Canada’s site was the leading “service maturity” position according to the study, because it offers citizens and businesses the opportunity to conduct electronic transactions and also offers an extensive library of governmentpublications online.
Norway, Australia, Finland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were categorized as “visionary followers” by the consulting firm because they provide ahigh number of services online and a moderate level of site sophistication.
Countries that were identified as “steady achievers” — which was defined as those governments offering a widebatch of services with significant opportunity to mature their service leveland delivery model — include New Zealand, France, Spain,Ireland, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. Hong Kong also landed in this category.
The countries with low levels of government services online were Japan, Brazil, Malaysia, SouthAfrica, Italy and Mexico. However, the report noted, those countries are wellpositioned to develop coordinated cross-agency Web presences.
“Overall, the innovative leaders and other countries paving the way toe-government achieved their status as a result of the political willasserted by their government leadership,” said Accenture managing partnerVivienne Jupp. “They have set targets and timetables to ensure that theirvisions are being translated into reality.”
Passport to E-Government
To compile data for its second annual study of e-government, Accentureattempted to conduct business with 22 governments via the Internet, with afocus on e-government services.
The firm reviewed these service areas, among others: justice and public safety, revenue, defense, education, administration, transportation and postal.