Reading Report – Digital Government #4

Book Name:
Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance

By: Darrell M. West

Reported by: Aldwin Urbina (M1)

Chapter 4 / Explaining E-Government Performance


This chapter reports on the research study conducted by the author in accounting the relative successes of governments in adapting technology into their websites. The author used several measures of e-government across fifty American states and examined the factors that helped explain aggregate state-level performance. The author focused on online content for the analysis (i.e., online services, readability, interactivity, and privacy) since there is no agreed-upon standard for the assessment of e-government performance. In the analysis conducted, the author employed an aggregate approach in explaining e-government.

Two of the most important aspects in measuring e-government are the number and extent of online services. According to the study conducted by the author, the most important determinant for the number of services indicator was legislative professionalism [i.e., the capacity of the legislature to perform its role in the policymaking process with an expertise, seriousness, and effort comparable to that of other actors in the process, (Mooney, 1994)]. The more professional the legislature, the more online services were offered by those states. On the other hand, the best indicator of the percentage of state agencies offering online services was the state’s personal income per capita. This explains that states with higher personal incomes were more likely to have a larger number of agencies providing online services.

The study also tackled readability of websites which is a measure of accessibility of government sites. It was raised that if government websites are written/scripted at too high of a level, then it would be difficult for a wide range of citizens to comprehend online material. In doing the analysis on website readability, the author inferred that the more college graduates there were, the higher the grade level of readability of government websites. Further, the author mentions that states where there are social and public pressures to keep readability to a low grade level deliver lower grade level readability than areas not having such pressures.

The study also examined the quality of privacy policies within each American state. The two factors that best explain the quality of privacy policy within each state are personal income and citizen ability to communicate with government websites. The author deduced that the higher the personal incomes there are in the state and the greater the ability of citizens to communicate with public sector sites, the higher the quality of the state’s privacy policy.

Reporter’s Own Thoughts

The study presented in this chapter is noteworthy considering the huge amount of the information gathered and the extent of the analysis conducted. With the aid of statistical models used by the author, the various aspects of e-government, and the relationships that exist among those aspects, were practically explained. The research done by the author shall be a good reference for future studies on measuring e-government performance. Furthermore, results of the study bestow essential information that may provide direction/guidance to decision-making bodies of government in adopting and implementing e-government.