United Nations Global E-government survey 2012

March 1, 2012

The United Nations Global E-government Survey 2012 is now available. This sixth UN E-government survey focuses on E-government for the People:

UN E-government Survey 2012

Executive summary:
Progress in online service delivery continues in most countries around the world. The United Nations E-Government Survey 2012 finds that many have put in place e-government initiatives and information and communication technologies applications for the people to further enhance public sector efficiencies and streamline governance systems to support sustainable development. Among the e-government leaders, innovative technology solutions have gained special recognition as the means to revitalize lagging economic and social sectors.

The overall conclusion that emerges from the 2012 Survey in today’s recessionary world climate is that while it is important to continue with service delivery, governments must increasingly begin to rethink in terms of e-government – and e-governance – placing greater emphasis on institutional linkages between and among the tiered government structures in a bid to create synergy for inclusive sustainable development. An important
aspect of this approach is to widen the scope of e-government for a transformative role of the government towards cohesive, coordinated, and integrated processes and institutions through which such sustainable development takes place.

Please see the official site for more details.

Global Web Accessibility

April 7, 2011

Cover of Journal of Information Technology and Politics

A scientific publication titled Global Web Accessibility Analysis of National Government Portals and Ministry Web Sites (Morten Goodwin, Deniz Susar, Annika Nietzio, Mikael Snaprud, Christian S. Jensen) was recently published.

The publication presents web accessibility benchmarking methodology, and uses this methodology to present a survey on the accessibility of public web sites in the 192 United Nations Member States. It further identifies common properties of Member States that have accessible and inaccessible Web sites and shows that implementing antidisability discrimination laws is highly beneficial for the accessibility of Web sites, while signing the UN Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities has had no such effect yet. The article also demonstrates that, despite the commonly held assumption to the contrary, mature, high-quality Web sites are more accessible than lower quality ones. Moreover, Web accessibility conformance claims by Web site owners are generally exaggerated.

The countries with web sites that receive the best accessibility scores are:

  1. Germany
  2. Portugal
  3. Spain

The survey also shows that the economy of a country influences the accessibility of web sites, so that, not surprisingly, wealthy countries have more accessible web sites than poor countries. However, the study shows that accessibility laws have more impact than the financial status. Thus, it is not necessarily costly to make web sites accessible. It is however important to have well established accessibility laws which are actively followed up.

(Full disclosure: I am a co-author of the paper)
Morten Goodwin

Is financial wealth leading to high quality government services?

August 6, 2010

It is natural to assume that financial wealth leads to better government. It is further reasonable to expect that wealthy countries have higher quality of the e-government services compared to countries with less financial wealth. But how much does the finances alone influence quality e-government services? This short study gives a peek of how finances affects e-government services.

UN E-government 2010 report

In this study the data used for quality of e-government services is the E–Government Development Index (E-readiness score) from the United Nations E-Government Survey 2010. Thus, it is directly assumed that a government with high quality e-government services will receive a high score, and visa versa. The remaining data used is from the World Bank Data Catalog.

The following figure presents a box plot of the differences between the E–Government Development Index of Developing and Developed countries. The plot shows that developing countries have in average score of 0.4 while developed countries have an average score of about 0.7. Furthermore, all developing countries have scores less than 0.7, while all the developed countries have a score higher than 0.5. Thus based on the United Nations E–Government Development Index score it is, not surprisingly, significant difference between e-government services in developing and developed countries.

Developing countries have in average of 0.4 while developed countries have an average of about 0.7. All the developing countries have e-readiness score less than 0.7 while all the developed countres have a score higher than 0.5.

E-readiness score versus developing and developed countires.

Thus, the quality is clearly dependant on the finances, but how much of the quality e-Government services are influenced by finances alone?

The development of government services is complex procedure shaped by many factors. There exists no general conclusion of which factors influence the quality of the government service. It is however possible to determine to what extent data from the financial situation in a country can be used to predict the e-readiness score.

The following graph presents the plot between E–Government Development Index and GNI per capita. The graph also includes a regression, which can be used to calculate the E–Government Development Index based on the GNI per capita alone.

A dotplot showing the trends between E-readiness and GNI per capita.

E-readiness versus GNI per capita

The trends in the data are clearly visible. The regression can be seen as the black line, the mean response is shows as a green dashed line while the prediction interval is presented as the blue dashed line.

The regression line (black line) shows the relationship between the E–Government Development Index and GNI per capita. If no correlation existed between the two data sets, the line would be completely horizontall. The regression line can be used to predict the E–Government Development Index using only the GNI per capita. The graphs shows us that the relationship is not linear, but more complex.
The mean response interval (green dashed line) tells the estimated mean of the data.
The prediction interval (blue dashed line) tells where future data is expected be located (similar to confidence interval).

The data shows that the mean response interval and prediction interval changes as the GNI per capita increases. Generally, we are more certain of the prediction when these intervals are small. From this we can draw the following conclusion. It is relatively easy to predict the E-readiness score when a country has a low GNI per capita. In contrast, to predict the E-readiness score based on the GNI Per Capita alone for wealthy countries is a lot less precise. I.e. lack of finances generally means low quality services, while wealth alone is not sufficient to ensure quality in e-government.

Fighting corruption with e-Government

July 1, 2010

A very interesting study called E-government as an anti-corruption strategy showed that establishing e-Government reduces corruption. This should not be a surprise to anyone working with e-Government since it commonly believed that introduction of e-government diminishes the contact between corrupt officials and citizens, as well as increases the transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, hard evidence for these claims have been lacking (United Nations Development Programme, Fighting Corruption with e-Government Applications – APDIP e-NOTE 8, 2006).

The study is innovative as it uses a statistical approach to examine trends between e-Government and anti-corruption. Most other papers presenting quantitative data in the area do not use a statistical approach, which makes it more challenging to trust the results.

However, in this publication the author inspected, in a sound statistical way, the changes in corruption, using the control of corruption index presented by the World Bank, versus the changes in e-Government, using data from a Global e-Government Survey.

Unfortunately, for the OECD countries the author was not able to find any clear trends. This could be explained by less corruption in the OECD countries (compared to non-OECD countries), which means that the OECD countries had less to win, when it comens to anti-corruption, by introducing e-Government. Note that this is not evidence for absent of reduced corruption because of e-Government in OECD countries, just that the trends are not clearly visible in the data.

However, for the non-OECD countries, there are clear trends in the examined data. The results strongly imply that the introduction of e-Government has led to a significant reduction of corruption. Thus, supporting the view that e-Government is a very useful for reducing corruption – on a global scale.

United Nations Global E-Government Survey 2010

April 15, 2010

UN E-government 2010 reportThe United Nations Global E-government Survey 2010 is now available. This fifth UN E-government survey focuses on e-government at a time of financial and economic crises.

The first part of the report is a discussion on ways e-government can mitigate the effects of the financial crises on development. It sees e-government in the light of the following United Nations priorities:

  1. Stimulus funds, transparency and public trust. By October 2009 the financial stimulus packages summed up to about one third of the gross world income. At the same time, the trust in banks decreased.
  2. Roles of e-government in financial regulation and monitoring. Government deploy ICT as a response to the financial crises which has the potential to improve the policy making process.
  3. E-service delivery and how it relates to the millennium development goals including how e-government poverty eradication, education, gender-inclusive approach to service delivery.

The second part is the results from the global survey. As previously, this includes the e-government ranking of the United Nations member states, regions and comparisons to the previous survey. Additionally, the second part includes the e-participation ranking and a (superficial) methodology section.

Please see the official page for more details.

Is e-government leading to more accountable and transparent local governments?

March 19, 2010

Recently, a very interesting and solid paper titled “Is e-government leading to more accountable and transparent local governments? An overall view“, authored by Vicenta Pina, Lourdes Torres and Sonia Royo, has been published. I recommend anyone interested in e-government assessment and transparency to read this.

The paper focuses on to what degree introducing e-government has had a positive impact of the transparency of local governments.

The transparency measurements are carried out by assessing local government web sites with a methodology that rewards the presence of services and information. The underlying assumption is that, for example, a web site having contact information is more transparent than a web site where contact information is missing.

The survey includes five local government web sites (the web site of the capital and the four subsequent largest cities) from 15 European web sites.  It is easy to argue that this is not a representative sample since smaller municipalities are not at all included in the survey. We can expect substantial differences between web sites from smaller and larger municipalities.

According to the survey results, the most transparent local governments can be found in the United Kingdom, followed closely by Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. On the other hand, according to the survey, Greece had most improvement potential.

In addition to transparency the authors have performed a survey on account interoperability, usability and web site maturity.

The impact of the Finacial Crisis on eGovernment

March 11, 2010

A very interesting presentation has been made available discussing the impacts of the recent financial crisis on the eGovernment in Denmark. (Adam Grønlykke Mollerup, The economic and financial crisis: Impact on e-government in Denmark?)

The study claims, as can be expected, that more strict economy meant increased budged deficits, fall in investments, and decreased productivity.

Much more interesting is the impact it had on eGovernment in the country. According to the presentation the recent financial recession, and the measures taken accordingly, had a positive impact on the eGovernment, namely:

  • Increased awareness on the necessity of efficient use of eGovernment.
  • More focus has on eGovernment performance, including measurements of the actual outcome.
  • More focus on larger eGovernment domains such as whole government approaches.
  • Readiness for larger investment.

I have unfortunately only been able the find the presentation of this study (Adam Grønlykke Mollerup, The economic and financial crisis: Impact on e-government in Denmark?). In this presentation, the findings are not discussed in any details. More elaborate argumentations for the findings would have been very useful.