E-government improving, but citizens want more, more, more

28 May 2013

Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Digital Agenda

Almost half (46pc) of European Union (EU) citizens go online to use e-government services but many of them said they are more satisfied with online banking and online shopping than they are with online public services, a new report suggests.

Nearly half of EU citizens now go online to look for a job, use the public library, file a tax return, register a birth, apply for a passport or use other e-government services, The eGovernment Benchmark 2012 report revealed.

The report surveyed 28,000 internet users across 32 countries. Eighty per cent of survey respondents said online public services save them time, 76pc like the flexibility, and 62pc said it saves them money.

However, these users are more satisfied with online banking (8.5 satisfaction rating on a scale of 0 to 10), and online shopping (7.6) than with public services online (6.5).

Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Digital Agenda, said these are promising trends for e-government in Europe but “when users are more satisfied with online banking than online public services, it shows that public administrations must do better at designing e-government services around users’ needs. And we have to do more to make e-government work across borders.”

Areas for improvement

The report also signalled that improvements are needed to online services for important life events, such as losing or finding a job, setting up a company, and registering for educational courses/programmes.

The Digital Agenda for Europe is working on it. The agenda aims to increase the use of e-government services to 50pc of EU citizens by 2015.

EU citizens who now use e-government services and responded to the survey for the eGovernment Benchmark 2012 report also revealed the most popular e-government services: declaring income taxes (73pc of users declare taxes online), moving or changing address (57pc), and enrolling in higher education and/or applying for student grants (56pc).

Most (54pc) of survey respondents still prefer face-to-face contact or other traditional channels with which to access government services. However, 30pc of these respondents said they could also be regular e-government users – if more relevant services were provided.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic