Academics and national eGovernment policy-makers from across the EU met in Dublin castle on 17-18 June to compare ways to measure the benefits of on-line public services, and how to reshape back-office processes so as to deliver these services more effectively.

This conference, entitled “Towards Innovative Transformation in the Public Sector”, was organised jointly by the European Commission and the EU’s Irish Presidency, to help policy-makers design the next steps in their strategies for eGovernment modernisation and innovation in public administrations, in line with the eEurope 2005 Action Plan.

Improving service delivery and measuring the benefits were also key themes at a meeting of national eGovernment leaders in Dublin on the eve of the conference (16 June – “Bloomsday” in Ireland), on how to accelerate the deployment of eGovernment services and modernise the back-office processes upon which they depend.

Key conclusions of the Conference

Measuring eGovernment benefits

  • There is a need to define a broad reference framework, more relevant to the public sector’s “service” ethos, for measuring eGovernment benefits. This framework will encompass the wider impacts of new technology-enabled innovation and modernisation, the costs, the service gaps that new technologies can help to meet, and the opportunities that they create for new models of service and perhaps even for new democratic relationships.

Modernisation and transformation of back-office processes

  • There is a need for an innovation framework, to guide the re-engineering of back-office processes and harness the full potential of new technologies. This framework should encompass political and administrative leadership, greater and more effective citizen engagement, the use of public/private partnerships, the potential for pan-European and cross-jurisdictional services, and structures for enabling and promoting innovation (whether this entails buying in innovative solutions or developing the skills of public officials).

“Bloomsday” recommendations

A formal report of the 16 June meeting of national eGovernment leaders, to be submitted to the eEurope Advisory Group, in the autumn, is expected to advocate:

  • an exchange of experiences in Member States, relating to the use of Broadband internet for on-line public services,
  • seeking to achieve one-stop, pan-European services for citizens, supported by interoperability in the back offices of public administrations. Such services should make it easier to live, work, move and do business across Europe,
  • investigating user preferences where multiple channels or means of accessing eGovernment services have been provided,
  • supporting the Commission's initiative to exchange good practices in eGovernment, and
  • moving towards a new framework, by 2005, for measuring the benefits of eGovernment.

In discussing the economics and benefits of eGovernment, the national leaders sought ways to measure how far modern on-line services are actually being used by citizens. Convincing examples have emerged of how such services are reducing red tape, and making government more efficient and effective. Use of these services is expected to become widespread in the coming years.