Government sites popular among Web users

Fifty-five percent of adult Internet users in the United States logged on to some type of government Web site in the last year, according to the 2001 National Technology Readiness Survey released Jan. 9. Half of adult Internet users visited a state or local government site, and 33 percent visited a federal government Web site.

The survey was cosponsored by the Center for e-Service at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business in College Park, Md., and Rockbridge Associates Inc., a technology market research firm in Great Falls, Va.

The annual telephone survey, based on a random sample of 500 U.S. adults, tracks beliefs about technology and key behaviors related to electronic service. It has a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The study also showed that adult Internet users are more likely to conduct business online with a government agency than they are to conduct business online with a bank, credit card company or stock brokerage.

Twenty-one percent of adult Internet users conducted business online with a government agency last year, compared to 20 percent who completed bank transactions online, 15 percent who paid a credit card bill online and 10 percent who traded stocks online.

"The percentage of people using the Internet to obtain government information, pay taxes, apply for permits and conduct other business is surprisingly high, especially at the state and local levels," said Roland Rust, director of the Center for e-Service and holder of the David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing at the Smith School. "This research suggests that e-government is, in many ways, even more prevalent than e-commerce. E-service appears to be an increasingly attractive alternative to standing in line at a government office," he said.

While the study showed that men and women are equally likely to visit government Web sites, it found that men are more likely to do business with the government online. For example, 23 percent of men conducted state or local government business online last year, compared to 10 percent of women.

More results from the 2001 survey can be found at www.rhsmith.umd.edu/media.

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