Study: Governments Not Using IT Fully to Serve Citizens

Study: Governments Not Using IT Fully to Serve Citizens

By William Welsh, Staff Writer

SEPT. 15 ? Federal and state governments are not fully using information technology to provide information and services to citizens, according to a university study to determine the quality and effectiveness of e-government.

An examination of federal and state government Web sites by a research team from Brown University's Taubman Center for Public Policy found that more than three-quarters of the sites offered no online transaction services.

In addition, only 5 percent of the states had a security policy and only 7 percent had a privacy policy.
"E-government is still in its early stages," said Darrell West, who led the study.

The top-ranking state Web sites were Texas, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, while the lowest ranking were Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Performing the best among the federal Web sites were the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department, while the poorest performances were by National Security Council, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House.

The researchers noted that small populations or small economies appeared to have difficulty achieving the economies of scale necessary to implement technological initiatives.

The research team examined 1,813 federal and state Web sites, searching each for 27 different features and ranking them on a 100-point scale.

Of the Web sites studied, 1,716 were state government sites (with an average of 34 per state), 36 were federal legislative or executive sites and 61 were federal court sites.

The researchers rated sites on whether they gave citizens clear information about contacting government offices, offered online services such as vehicle registration or searchable records, provided high-quality access for citizens with disabilities or limited English and had policies to protect security and privacy.

While the majority of sites examined in the study contained basic phone and address information, e-mail, external links and publications, less than half offered important features such as citizen services, disability access, foreign language translation, search capabilities, an index or technical help.

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