WASHINGTON; April 14, 2003 – American Internet users have a strong interest in using government Web sites to complete many of the transactions they currently conduct off-line, and more Americans are online, e-savvy and exploring e-government according to a new study released today by the Council for Excellence in Government and Accenture.
The study: “The New e-Government Equation: Ease, Engagement, Privacy and Protection,” was conducted by Hart-Teeter Research. It finds that more than 60% of Americans who use the Internet are interested in using e-government for conducting activities such as filing a change of address, responding to a jury summons, renewing a driver’s license, or obtaining a birth certificate or marriage license.
More than two-thirds (67%) of e-government users – defined as those American Internet users who have accessed a government Web site – say that conducting transactions with government is easier because of e-government. Nearly three-fourths (74%) of the same group believe that the benefits of e-government will only grow and have a positive effect on the way government operates over the next 5-10 years.
But there is a caveat. While Americans value the ease and efficiency of better e-services from government, they also express concerns that dealing with government over the Internet may compromise their privacy. Nearly forty-five percent of Americans strongly agree that if they submit personal information about themselves to government Web sites, government will be able provide them with better services. However, nearly the same percentage believes that if they submit personal information to government Web sites, it may risk the security and privacy of their personal information.
“The results of this poll bring a complex challenge into clear focus. Americans want easy, efficient and effective e-government. Just as important, they want their privacy protected,” said Patricia McGinnis, President and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. “Striking that balance is the next important evolution in the e-government revolution and will require the efforts of both government and the technology community to apply the appropriate safeguards and build trust in using government Web sites.”
“The fact that e-government users are saying that it makes it easier and more convenient for them to conduct transactions with government is encouraging,” said Stanley J. Gutkowski, Managing Partner, Accenture USA Government. “There is clearly a high level of interest by citizens to conduct more of their transactions with governments online. If governments can demonstrate that such interactions will be secure and personal information will be protected, e-government has a chance to flourish and really take hold over the next several years.”
The study also makes the case that Americans believe that e-government is a critical tool to fight terrorism and strengthen homeland security. More than half of all Americans and half of all e-government users believe that investing in e-government will help homeland security by enabling government at all levels to share information, coordinate responses to emergencies quickly, and engage and inform citizens. Half of all Americans also believe it is appropriate for the government to search its existing databases for information that could help them track down and catch terrorists.
For the third year in a row, Americans cite better government accountability as the greatest benefit of e-government. In addition, the study interviewed four hundred government leaders across the country. Nearly forty five percent of them cited a lack of financial resources as the top challenge to successful e-government.
"The results of this survey are testimonial that the President’s E-gov initiatives are truly transforming government - making access to and transactions with the government easier for citizens. The findings will be useful for refining the work we are doing to increase the government’s capability to interact with the citizens on their terms and better fulfill their needs," stated Mark Forman, Associate Director of Technology and E-government at the Office of Management and Budget.
The study included surveys of 1,023 adults nationwide, including an over sample of 202 government Web site users, and 400 government decision makers (200 at the federal level, 100 in state government, and 100 in local government). A best practice area survey of 254 randomly selected Internet users in nine cities was conducted, as well as a survey of 2,000 Internet users in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom. The public opinion survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%, and was conducted in February 2003.
This study was underwritten by Accenture and is the third in a series of annual e-government polls conducted on behalf of the Council for Excellence in Government (www.excelgov.org), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of leaders in the private and nonprofit sectors who are committed to improving the performance of government at all levels, and government’s place in the lives and esteem of American citizens.
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them realize their visions and create tangible value. With deep industry expertise, broad global resources and proven experience in consulting and outsourcing, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, alliances and technologies. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.6 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2002. Its home page is www.accenture.com.