The eGovernment benchmark 2017 report reveals that the top 5 overall performers are Malta, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and Norway. These countries lead the way forward to fulfil Europe’s ambition of creating a Digital Single Market.
Country performance: How do individual countries perform
Performance is measured as an average of scores for four top-level benchmarks:
- user centricity (how fast and easy to use public information and services online),
- transparency (of government authorities’ operations, service delivery procedures and the level of control users have over their personal data),
- cross-border mobility (the extent to which people can use public services outside their country),
- key enablers (the availability of eID, eDocuments and Authentic Sources, etc).
Europe appears to be getting closer to the 100%-landmark with regard to user-centricity. However, it scores less well on the other three benchmarks, especially in terms of exploiting the potential of Key Enablers for public services.
This is the most advanced dimension of online public services in Europe in 2016, emphasising the focus of governments to bring more public information and services online. Europe records a 12 p.p. increase in online availability of services. The gap between worst and best performing countries is also closing (from a 52 p.p. gap to 47 p.p. in 2016).
A positive trend can be observed in the mobile friendliness of public websites– 54% of public websites allow users to read information properly and navigate through public service websites on a mobile device.
Transparency of government organisations
The transparency of government organisations' service processes and citizens' control of personal data averages at 59% for the EU28+ in 2016. The study shows that the transparency of service delivery processes (e.g. informing users on how long the process will take, response times, etc.) is insufficient for 1 in 2 people. As previous eGovernment Benchmark studies have also indicated, this is a key barrier for users to continue their online journey. Some countries like Germany (+46 p.p. from 2012), Finland (+35 p.p. from 2012) and Iceland (+32 p.p. from 2012) have improved a lot in this area.
Cross-border service delivery
This dimension is essential for the Digital Single Market and records solid improvements over the years (+25% since 2012). Information and even services are becoming increasingly available to EU citizens when starting up a business or studying in another country. Results for the online availability indicator show that besides best performers Sweden and Finland (both scoring 100%), some countries have made huge steps: Latvia (+60 p.p.) Poland (+49 p.p.) and France (+45 p.p.) have improved their online channels for fellow Europeans. It will be interesting to observe if cross-border service delivery can continue the steep growth curve it has shown over the past years. New indicators on cross-border eID and eDocuments are in their infancy, but will be the accelerators for fully online cross-border services in the years to come.
Key technological enablers
The study reveals that the deployment of key technological enablers (i.e. eID, eDocuments and Authentic Sources) has the most room for improvement (at 52%; EU28+). The authentic sources indicator which facilitates pre-filling of online forms, progressed slower than other indicators, with only a 3% growth since 2012. The benefits for users and public authorities are obvious (e.g. efficient, effective, timesaving) but insufficiently reaped.
Uneven progress among life events
Mystery shoppers, i.e. researchers that simulate the citizens' journey through government websites and services, assess the features of multiple eGovernment services related to four life events ( i.e. collection of government services that fulfil a specific user's need) each year. For 2016, these were:
- Starting a business: a vast majority (87%, with +5% vs 2014), of people starting up a business can do so online, but only 51% of these services are mobile friendly.
- Losing and finding a job: an online availability of services at 83% and an overall usability across Europe of 90%. This is the second best scoring event, after "starting a business".
- Education/ Studies: Online availability of services for studying scored 84%, experienced a good boost compared to 2014 (+5%). However, mobile friendliness of these services also scores low (52%).
- Family event: Online services under the family event scored more than 70%, with better scores on mobile friendliness comparing to the other three life events.
An explorative benchlearning perspective
The benchlearning exercise compares the eGovernment performance of different countries in order to understand which factors hamper innovation and how the key characteristics of a country might influence eGovernment performance. eGovernment performances are measured through:
- Penetration - the extent to which the use of the online channel is widespread among users of government services. Penetration at European level is 52%, but with a wide variance among EU countries
- Digitisation - summarises four top-level benchmarks: user centricity, transparency, cross-border mobility, key enablers. Digitisation is at 65% and a lower variance.
By comparing countries with similar environment-specific characteristics (i.e. users', government and context characteristics), it is possible to determine which countries perform above expected values and which countries perform below expected values, given the country-specific context.
Estonia is the only country outperforming in both Digitisation and Penetration. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Romania are outperforming in Penetration, and in line performance in Digitisation. Austria, Latvia, Malta and Spain are outperforming in Digitisation, and show in line performance in Penetration.
Portugal performs well in digitisation, but underperforms in penetration. France, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden perform in line with their characteristics (i.e. relative indicators). Belgium, Cyprus, Italy and Germany underperform in penetration, while they perform in line in terms of digitisation. Looking at digitisation instead, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Slovakia and United Kingdom, underperform, while they perform in line with penetration averages.
The Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Hungary show a relative performance below the European trend, both in penetration and in digitisation.
The 14th eGovernment Benchmark report is the fifth edition of the measurement made according to the eGovernment Benchmark Framework 2012-2015. A complete measurement of all eight life events takes two years: the former four (regular business operations, moving locations, car ownership, and small claims procedure) are measured in odd years while the latter four (starting up a business, losing and finding a job, studying and family) are measured in even years. The methodology has been updated in 2016, so making comparison with previous years are possible for only some indicators.