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EU Benchmark Survey confirms Member States making significant progress in eGovernment

(20/09/2007) Europe continues to make sound progress on the supply of online public services. Online public services are increasingly interactive, but should strive to meet the "citizen challenge", says the latest e-Government benchmarking survey published on 20 September.

The maturity of online public services in the EU keeps improving. They have now reached an overall level of sophistication where full two-way interaction between citizens and governments is the norm. In fact they are moving rapidly towards the stage where a whole process can be conducted on-line: 58% of services now allow the citizen to receive a public service conducted fully on-line, 8% more than in 2006. This means better, more efficient and effective public service provision for both citizens and businesses.

For the first time, the survey assessed the national portals and found that governments have invested in delivering delivering theseas a high quality, convenient, trusted and branded route to the provision of public services. The survey has also looked at the users experience when accessing on-line public services, in recognition of the growing importance of this topic.

Once again, Austria leads the online public service league with a nearly perfect score, followed by Malta, Portugal and Slovenia. Businesses are still being better served than citizens, although the gap between the two is closing. Since 2001, this survey has measured the share of public services fully available on line in the EU, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and for the first time this year, Turkey.

This survey confirms the findings of a "National progress report" presented to the 22 ministers attending an eGovernment Conference in Lisbon on 20 September

General conclusions of the Benchmark Survey

The survey, carried out for the European Commission by consultants Capgemini, examined over 14,000 web sites offering 20 basic public services in the 27 EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey. In 2007 the online sophistication of public service delivery reached an overall score of 76%, while 58% of the measured public services are fully available online. Austria stands out both on sophistication and full on-line availability, with scores of 99 and 100% respectively. We also see some fast movers: Portugal has made major progress since 2006 and Malta and Slovenia stand out as countries that have embraced eGovernment and advanced online service delivery and therefore top the charts in 2007.

The different degrees of sophistication of online public services range from ‘basic’ information provision to ‘full’ electronic case handling (fully available online) and proactive, personalised service delivery. This proactive stage was introduced this year for the first time as an indication of the emergence of "intelligent" service delivery we are now seeing in the EU.

Services for business still score well above those for citizens on both counts. Sophistication for businesses lies at 84%, whereas for citizens it is 70%. The difference is greater in terms of full availability, with 70% of services for businesses fully available on line against 50% for citizens. Austria, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Malta have achieved 100% fully-online availability for businesses However, in the past year the gap has reduced considerably, and services for citizens saw a marked growth compared to previous surveys. In the UK, Finland, Norway and Slovenia citizens are now served just as well as businesses.

For the first time in this edition the survey examined three elements which are important to the user experience: the provision of a legally recognised, secure electronic identity, whether the service could be accessed via alternative channels such as call centres, kiosks, mobile phones and TV, and compliance of the websites with the International Accessibility Guidelines. The overall result for this indicator is more mixed and reaches 19%, with Austria, Bulgaria and Norway scoring above 30%. The most striking finding was that only 5% of websites make a specific reference to their compliance with international accessibility guidelines (WAI).

National portals fared much better. The report looked at the number of basic public services which can be accessed from the portal, the existence of personalised options, ease of navigation and whether its presentation is targeted at different kinds of users (businesses vs. citizens, around life events or around the structure of the administration). The overall score of 75% demonstrates that national governments consider the national portal as one of the cornerstones of their eGovernment plans.

Europe continues to make sound progress on the supply of online public services as a key enabler to deliver the i2010 eGovernment action plan and Lisbon goals. Yet much still needs to be done to improve services for the more experienced citizens who are well versed in web services. Today’s challenge is to deliver an experience that attracts and fulfils citizen needs, efficiently, consistently, and economically.

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