Accenture Gives Canada, Singapore, U.S. Top E-Gov Rankings

Even the countries that top Accenture's ranking of electronic government capabilities still have a long way to go, according to the recently released study.

Accenture, Chicago, surveyed 22 countries and ranked them according to breadth (the number of government services online) and depth (the sophistication of those services).

Canada won the top ranking, followed by Singapore and the United States. These three countries were considered innovative leaders by the author's of the report, "eGovernment Leadership, Rhetoric versus Reality ? Closing the Gap."

Leadership doesn't mean that there isn't work to be done, said Stephen Rohleder, managing partner for U.S. government clients for Accenture. The U.S. federal government, in fact, stands at an especially critical juncture, he said.

While many agencies have Web sites, citizen and business users aren't getting a lot of value out of them. Unless that changes, there is a danger of apathy among both users of the sites and the government.

"We could end up with the worst of both worlds," he said. "A foot in the Web and a foot in brick and mortar."

Governments need to concentrate on bringing real transactions to their Web sites so that citizens and businesses can pay taxes, file forms and conduct any other business online, Rohleder said

Also needed, he said, are leadership and the political will to overcome obstacles, such as security and privacy concerns, government laws and regulations and cultural issues. And that leadership has to come from the agencies, not the administration.

"The administration can pound its fist and say, we want to do this, we want to do that. But if the agencies don't buy into it, nothing gets done," Rohleder said.

A cabinet-level agency head needs to step up and say his or her agency will be the model for e-government, he said.

The report also found a growing level of understanding among the surveyed countries on how e-government can be used.

Governments also are turning to customer relationship management technologies to bring better services online. Also on the rise are Web designs built around what a users wants to do rather than being built solely around how an agency operates in the non-online world.

The report predicts the e-government landscape will be vastly different two to three years from now. Citizens and businesses are growing very accustomed to sophisticated online transaction in the commercial world, and that is pressuring governments to step up quickly, the report said.

Other pressures on government to improve include a shrinking work force, quickly changing technology and budgetary pressures, Rohleder said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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