September 2011

Assessing National e-Readiness

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Our surveys show that Europe is leading in egovernance implementation, but the developing world is also catching up fast

By Seema Hafeez,
Sr Economic Affairs Officer, Division for Public Administration and Development Management, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Governments today are looking to reform processes to increase transparency and accountability, improve access to services, improve response times and service quality, and make governance a participatory process. Egovernance is a major tool in this endeavour. Measurements of e-government therefore provide some insights on the performance of the governments. The UN Dept of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has been coming out with an e-readiness index since 2003. The index presents a comparative ranking of the 193 UN Member States according to their state of e-government readiness. The survey is available online at http://www.unpan.org/egovkb/global_reports/08report.htm

Objectives of the survey

The survey aims to provide a comparative assessment of 193  countries in the use of e-government and ICTs for delivery of public services;  act as a benchmarking tool for monitoring the progress of countries  towards higher levels of e-government and e-participation service delivery.

The E-government Readiness Index is a composite index comprising the Online Service Index, the Telecommunication Infrastructure index and the Human Capital index. The website assessments in the Survey  represent an ascending  four-stage model based on a state’s online presence.  This is illustrated in the adjoining figure.

Highlights from the survey

Some interesting highlights from recent surveys are:

• Majority of the UN Member States have vigorously embraced electronic service delivery.
• Since 2003, 189 out of the 192 UN Member States have set up government websites for online information and services
• Six of the top ten world e-government readiness leaders are countries from  the European Region. Several developing countries are among the top 35 e-ready countries and ahead of some developed economies, 2010
• Efforts at linking up various government departments are at an early stage worldwide.
• 61 % of the countries had more than 10 ministries/departments connected to  the Home page.
• 39 or one-fifth of all 192 UN Member States , countries offered online form submission
• 31 countries offered users the possibility to make online payments with credit or debit cards.

Important lessons

The most important lessons learnt from 7 years of UN Global e-government  readiness are that approaches to e-government programme offerings differ  from country to country; there is a wide variety in e-government development models and that the “how” of what countries choose to dispense online is a  function of “what” they want to focus on and “why” they want to focus on the  issue(s).

Based on the survey governments could
explore the following issues:
• What is the domain of e-government in the national government• What should be the objectives of e-government in the service of the citizen
• Is one conceptual model of ‘how to’ fo re-government and service delivery indeed feasible or desirable or each country, each village, needs to tailor it  according to its needs and level of development
• What are the challenges and barriers to e-government and e-participation service delivery from the government perspective

In addition, national governments need to readjust and realign the human,  capital and technological systems to adapt to innovations; establish policy  frameworks for integrating ICT and e-government in national planning processes; establish ICT focal points in governments and develop institutional  arrangements and form South-South partnerships for ICT led development

Trends in future e-government

The real benefit to e-Government lies not in the use of technology per se, but in  its application. Innovative e-government programs re-shape the relationship  between national, regional and local actors.

Trends of future world e-government are likely to contribute to more  participatory, and potentially more democratic, governancearound the world.

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