UK's E-Government Services Are Impressive But Insufficiently Used, Says OECD

The UK has some of the most sophisticated e-government services in Europe but not enough people use them, according to data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD has published the results of its research into the performance of governments across the world. It measured expenditure, revenues, regulation, corruption and budgeting policies.

It also measured the provision and take-up of e-government services. The UK came third in Europe in the OECD's list of countries with the most sophisticated services.

Only Austria and Portugal came out ahead of the UK. France, Sweden, Norway and Germany came immediately behind the UK in the league table.

The UK did less well on the take-up of those services, though. It came 11th in the league table of participation, with just 32% of the population using e-government services.

Austria and Portugal, which also had sophisticated services, also did poorly on participation. Austria came ninth with 39% participation while Portugal came 17th with 18%.

The OECD used European Commission figures on e-government, measuring a country's provisions in 12 consumer and eight business interactions with government.

The OECD said that its findings not only indicated which governments were engaging with e-government but which were using technology well more generally.

"In addition to the potential efficiencies gained by lowering the administrative burdens on clients, developing and implementing integrated e-government services often requires governments to standardise internal processes and data in order to integrate back-office functions across the public sector," said the OECD report. "E-government service maturity can be a proxy for the extent to which countries are generating internal efficiencies through the use of ICT."

It also said that while consumer take-up of services was low, it was generally high for businesses. "A significantly higher percentage of businesses use e-government services than citizens, in part because governments can more easily require the use of digital communications for businesses than they can for citizens," it said.

It said that countries are trying to work out why take-up is so low and found that there is a "strong correlation between the penetration of broadband and the use of e-government services by citizens".