A new comparative study by Accenture has found that Singapore, Norway and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rank first, second and third, respectively, among 10 countries in their use of “digital government” – from offering online portals to access public services to employing digital channels and social media to communicate and engage with citizens.
The countries in the study – Brazil, Germany, India, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States – were measured against the following criteria and given a cumulative score from one to 10:
Citizen Service Delivery Experience: The extent to which government agencies are citizen-centric, leveraging multichannel and cross-government public service delivery and initiating proactive communications, education and the use of social media for engagement.
Citizen Satisfaction: The extent to which citizens believe governments are meeting their needs and providing quality services.
Service Maturity: The level to which a government has developed a digital presence, in terms of publishing, interactions and online transactions.
The majority of countries that scored best in the study have made a sustained investment in digital government. Top-ranked Singapore, for example, will be one of the first countries to ensure that every citizen has an electronic health record.
The highest-ranking countries also actively seek and listen to citizen feedback. In Norway, 78 percent of citizens believe that government should consult with them in the design and delivery of public services, which indicates a highly engaged population.
According to the report, high-performing digital governments are:
- Focusing on their digital strategy, which is deeply embedded in the government agenda and public reforms.
- Continuing long-term investment in key information and communication technology (ICT) assets and the digitalization of core public services, such as taxation, pensions and healthcare.
- Leveraging the power of new technologies, such as social media, mobility, analytics, big data and cloud computing
- Connected across agency boundaries and have a strong culture of collaboration and data sharing.
The survey found that the majority of respondents – 81 percent – would like their government to provide more services through digital channels and most, 64 percent, would like to use social media to engage with government.
“Citizens interact online with retailers and banks and they also want to engage digitally with their government, connecting via mobile devices 24-7,” said Bernard Le Masson, who leads Accenture’s Health & Public Service global management consulting business.
“Citizen demand for digital services is even stronger in emerging markets, such as India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where 80 percent of citizens said they would like to communicate with government via social media and on their mobiles.”
However, the survey found that less than 40 percent of the citizens surveyed are satisfied with the quality of public services their country currently provides.
In fact, the study found that as the more mature markets – like the United States and the United Kingdom – face significant budget challenges, they are more focused on cost cutting and must weigh expanding digital initiatives against the mandate to reduce government expenditure.
This can take its toll on citizen satisfaction, evidenced by the results of the U.S. citizen survey, which showed that only 28 percent of respondents are satisfied with the quality of their public services, and most don’t think government is prioritizing their needs appropriately.
By contrast, 80 percent of the survey respondents in the UAE said their government is proactively addressing their priorities in health, employment and education. According to Le Masson, the UAE is an emerging leader in digital government and its portal “My Gov” is a good example of a single, all-encompassing channel for citizens to communicate with all federal government entities.
“New digital technologies emphasizing speed and mobility are not only changing the way we live, work and interact with each other, but they are providing unprecedented opportunities for government to radically transform complex bureaucracies and become more agile, citizen-centric, efficient and innovative,” Le Masson added.
“As governments become more digital and work toward ensuring that most citizens have online access, digital skills, and a voice in in the design of public services, they are experiencing higher levels of engagement, accountability and public trust.”