Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

EU eGovernment Report 2015 shows that online public services in Europe are smart but could be smarter

Article
A new study on eGovernment services shows that the users are still asked to fill forms with information already available to the administration in more than half of the cases. Only 57% of the public services are available to cross-border businesses and only 41% to other EU citizens across the border. 73% of the public services websites do not have a mobile-friendly version.

The 12th eGovernment Benchmark report is the third edition of the measurement made according to the new eGovernment Benchmark Framework 2012-2015. This framework provides for the use of mystery shoppers, i.e. researchers that assess government websites and services by simulating citizen's journeys through them.

The report analyses all the related services offered online for the following 7 life events, namely:

  • losing and finding a job,
  • studying,
  • starting a business,
  • moving,
  • owning a car,
  • small claims procedure (i.e. civil litigation for low value claims),
  • regular business operations.

A complete measurement of all seven life event takes two years: the former three are measured in even years while the latter four are measured in odd years. Therefore, this year represents the second complete measurement, running across 2013-2014, allowing us to compare progress made with respect to 2012-2013.

The main results of the report are:

User Centricity

50% of life event services can be used entirely online (usually it means submitting forms online) through a single portal while for another 33%, only information on the service (like forms needed, address and time schedule of relevant office etc..) is available through that portal. The remaining 17% is either available online but not through a portal, i.e. on different websites (2%), or information only available online but not through a portal (5%) or entirely offline (10%). However, assessment by mystery shoppers on the satisfaction of the experience on aspects like ease and speed of use, rate them poorly at 60% and 56 % respectively (with 100% being totally satisfied). The weighted average of the above mentioned availability and user-friendliness assessments makes up the User Centricity indicator, which scored 73% (in 2013-2014) slightly higher than the 70% score in 2012-2013.

Transparency

The Transparency indicator examines the extent to which governments are transparent about their own responsibilities and performance, the service delivery process, and the personal data involved. The report shows that EU websites possess 51% of the essential transparency features (up from 48% in the last measurement). The lowest performance is still related to service delivery (41%) while the Transparency level is slightly higher when it comes to provision of institutional information about the administrations (60%), or to information concerning the personal data involved in service delivery (52%).

Cross Border Mobility

Being one of the pillars toward the realization of an inclusive Digital Single Market, eGovernment services are still far from giving adequate support to citizens moving to another EU country. User-centricity of cross-border public services (i.e., online services for nationals of a different EU country) stands at 58% for businesses and at 43% for citizens. Although there is some improvement from last year (from, respectively, 53% and 38%), this figure is way lower than the corresponding one for domestic services.

Key Enablers

This indicator measures the availability of five technical elements which are essential for public services:

  • Electronic Identification (eID),
  • Electronic documents (eDocuments),
  • Authentic Sources,
  • Electronic Safe (eSafe),
  • Single Sign On (SSO).

The key enablers are implemented in only half of the cases where they could be used. Forms pre-filled with data already available to public administrations (e.g. date of birth, home address, marital status) without having to ask to the citizen twice are available only in 45% of the cases, thereby reducing the potential for usability of public services.

Mobile friendliness of public websites

This year is the first time that the study analysed the mobile friendliness of the public websites. On average 27% of European public sector websites for starting a business, losing and finding a job, and studying are mobile-friendly. With increasing numbers of European citizens accessing the internet through a mobile device, mobile-friendliness should be a normal practice for a public administration.

Mandatory use of online services

With increasing digitalization of the population, some member states are developing 'digital by default' approaches, by promoting the online channel as the default channel of interaction with the citizen gradually reducing alternative channels (including physical counters) in order to improve efficiency.

In the framework of the Digital Single Market strategy, the Commission will present a new eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 which will include:

  • making the interconnection of business registers a reality by 2017,
  • launching in 2016 an initiative with the Member States to pilot the 'Once-Only' principle,
  • extending and integrating European and national portals to work towards a 'Single Digital Gateway' to create a user friendly information system for citizens and business,
  • accelerating Member States' transition towards full e-procurement and interoperable e-signatures.

The European Commission will soon open a public consultation to seek stakeholders' views for the forthcoming the launch of the new eGovernment Action Plan as foreseen in the Digital Single Market Communication. The Commission’s current eGovernment Action Plan was established for the period 2011-2015. In order to continue the EU eGovernment activities beyond the mandate of the current Action Plan, the Commission will present a new eGovernment Action Plan for 2016-2020. 

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