Reading Report – Digital Government #9

Book Name:
Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance

By: Darrell M. West

Reported by: Aldwin Urbina (M1)

Chapter 9 / Global E-Government


This chapter presents e-government performance on a global scale in years 2001, 2002 and 2003. The author examined how the contexts of various countries affect their ability to innovate in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, particularly in e-government. The author studied over 2,000 websites of almost 200 countries, measuring the information and services that are online and how e-government varies around the world.

Comparing countries on the depth of their adoption of ICTs is difficult because of their differences in terms of economic development, type of government, culture, telecommunications infrastructure and Internet usage. However, despite these disparities, several academic scholars attempted to provide good insights or conclusions. Some scholars reckoned that Internet usage is linked with economic wealth [measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita], telecommunications policy, and level of spending in research and development. In 2001, a public opinion survey of around 29,000 people in 27 countries on e-government participation undertaken found that there is a wide variation in the percentage of each country’s population that had accessed online government. The results ranged from 53% in Norway to 3% in Turkey, Indonesia and Russia. Also, there were age and gender gaps in e-government usage around the world. Thirty six percent of those reported using e-government one month before the survey were under the age of 25, 7% were over age 65, and 2% were aged 55 to 64; and there were 28% men compared to 24% women.

The same survey indicated that two-thirds of the people felt “unsafe” using the Internet to conduct government transactions online. Germany was the country that had the highest percentage of individuals (85%) who worried about security and privacy of public sector websites. Those of having the greatest concern on Internet safety were women and people aged 25 to 44 years old.

The obvious reasons for the disparity in the usage of e-government are the country’s financial resources, organizational capacity and political will to make technology change a priority. Furthermore, some researchers found out that progress in e-government is associated to the scale of capital flows across countries or those countries that have access to capital are in a better position to innovate than those who do not. However, the level of democracy or liberalism was found to be not associated with e-government performance. This means that democratic nations were no better than non-democratic countries in terms of e-government development.

Some of the trends in e-government around the world are the adoption of the English language and other common languages in agency websites; putting publications, forms, and databases online for citizen access; and provision of single entry portals that integrate e-government service offerings across various agencies. On the other hand, there remains a need to improve on the aspects of privacy, security, and interactive features.

When it comes to overall e-government performance, the author deduced that the only factor that was statistically significant was the number of scientists and engineers (compared to Education, Corruption, GDP, Party Competition, Civil Liberties, and Internet Usage).

Reporter’s Own Thoughts

The author presented the gaps and disparities, as well as some trends, in the adoption and development of e-government in various countries around the world. Political leaders must learn from the best practices presented and to lookout for factors that may impede the development of e-government. Based on the findings of the author, the progress achieved in e-government is still a far cry from the full potential of Internet technology.