Barbara Hohbach
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April 24, 2002
Canada Wins the Gold in Moving Government Services Online, 2002 Annual Global Accenture Study Shows

Singapore, United States Turn in Silver, Bronze Performances

WASHINGTON, D.C.; April 24, 2002 National governments throughout the world significantly improved their online service delivery this past year, increasing the range and sophistication of eGovernment services for citizens and businesses alike, according to Accenture’s third annual global eGovernment study, “Realizing the Vision.” As governments progress along the eGovernment path, they also are demonstrating greater understanding of technology’s potential to help fully transform the way they operate – both in terms of service delivery and administrative effectiveness, the report notes.

Leading the way in eGovernment innovation is Canada, which outperformed the other 22 nations studied – the second straight year the country has held this leadership position on the eGovernment stage. Canada is midway through its ambitious five-year goal to become the world’s most citizen-connected government by 2004. By that date, the country plans to provide Canadians with electronic access to all federal programs and services, at the time and place of their choosing. Rounding out the top 10 countries are: Singapore, the United States, Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, Hong Kong, Germany and Ireland, in that order.

The eGovernment study also highlighted several emerging new trends that together help paint a portrait of how governments could better deliver electronic government to businesses and citizens. As governments create new electronic services, they also must successfully resolve considerations involving cross-agency integration, data security, individual privacy, governance structures, national security, global competitiveness and protection of civil liberties. Creation of uniform privacy practices, digital signature standards and encryption standards for sensitive information are a few of the ways governments are moving forward in this area to pave the way for further eGovernment advances – recognizing that real online cost savings occur only by enabling completion of whole transactions.

“As eGovernment programs mature, we’re seeing that the rhetorical and often politically driven flourishes of yesterday largely have been replaced with clearly articulated strategies that recognize very real barriers and pragmatically state why eGovernment is critical to economic and social development,” said Accenture’s Vivienne Jupp, managing partner for Global eGovernment Services. “One of the most serious challenges governments now face in realizing their eGovernment visions is building electronic bridges between government tiers – for example, not only between agencies at the federal level but also with their counterparts at the regional, state or provincial and local levels.”

The report shows that the online services gap between countries categorized as Innovative Leaders (Canada, Singapore and the United States) and those that are Visionary Challengers, the second quadrant of ranked countries, is narrowing, with 13 governments now earning 40 percent or higher scores in overall maturity of online services – compared with just two countries last year, Canada and Singapore. Visionary Challengers include: Australia, Denmark, UK, Finland, Hong Kong, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, France and Norway.

As this bar is raised, with some exceptions, the distance between these leading countries and those at the other end of the eGovernment spectrum has generally widened. And while maturity of services is stressed over the number of online services in determining leadership, nine of the countries surveyed, led by the United States, Singapore and France, are approaching 100 percent breadth of online services, with more than nine of every 10 eligible services offered online to some extent.

At the same time, recognition is growing that eGovernment is not just about technology, but also about harnessing it as a tool to transform the way governments operate. A key to successful eGovernment is the citizen-centric approach of Customer Relationship Management – treating citizens and businesses like customers by tailoring services to their needs rather than the needs of the agency delivering them. The extent to which governments have adopted this approach is one of the single most important factors in determining whether a country is positioned as an “innovative leader,” a “visionary challenger,” an “emerging performer” or a “platform builder” in eGovernment.

The report also provides eGovernment status reports and identifies best practices in six key government service areas: revenue, education, human services, justice and public safety, postal and the emerging area of democracy. For example, postal agencies – many of which have been partially or fully privatized – have moved beyond the traditional role of moving mail around to enabling citizens to carry out such tasks as paying utility bills, registering a change of address and purchasing electronic stamps. Finland’s postal service even offers citizens an electronic mailbox they can use to send and receive electronic letters and postcards.

“Citizens’ expectations of government have been permanently altered in recent years by forces such as: aging populations, increased service expectations, security concerns, a talent crunch, competition by the private sector and fiscal pressure that forces governments to find ways to do more with less,” said David Hunter, Group Chief Executive of Accenture’s Government group. “End-to-end eGovernment transactions are emerging as one of the most promising tools for governments to use in achieving real transformation as they deliver public services in the 21st century.”

Other Key Findings

  • Cross-Agency Coordination: National governments are articulating key priorities for cross-agency eGovernment rather than leaving individual agencies to determine their own online presence. However, this remains a primary challenge for many governments.
  •  Measuring Results: Governments are gradually learning how to measure the cost, impact and result of eGovernment initiatives, setting clearly defined benchmarks for progress.
  • Role of Private Sector: Collaboration with the private sector is becoming more sophisticated, as governments enter new business arrangements with providers, where risks and rewards are shared and the focus is on delivery of business outcomes.
  •  Marketing of Online Services: Governments are finally building incentives and marketing into their online programs to build awareness and encourage use of online services – and even targeting and tailoring to specific user segments.
  • Varied Stakeholders: Governments increasingly recognize the impact of electronic government not just on citizens, but also on government employees, private-sector organizations, government processes and organizational structures.

About the Study
A team of Accenture professionals in 23 countries conducted the study Jan. 7-18, 2002. Asked to behave like citizens and businesses, they went online to do business with their governments and to assess the maturity of services, based on a defined set of criteria for each service they identified and evaluated. Selected on the basis of eGovernment activity level, the countries reviewed were: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. Included in the study were 169 national government services crossing nine major service sectors: Human Services, Justice & Public Safety, Revenue, Defense, Education, Transport & Motor Vehicles, Regulation & Participation, Procurement, and Postal.

For the ePress Kit, click here.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach – in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities – Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is