U.S. ranks sixth in use of digital government


What: A study by Accenture titled “Digital Government: Pathways to Delivering Public Services for the Future.”

Why: The study compares how 10 countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Norway, Singapore and South Korea – use digital services such as social media to communicate with citizens. The survey’s methodology included measuring responses from 5,000 citizens in each country who use online digital platforms, analyzing digital government’s performance metrics and aggregating findings into a rankings system.

Overall, the U.S. ranked sixth in the survey, while Singapore, Norway and the United Arab Emirates finished first, second and third, respectively. The survey notes the U.S. is squarely in the “middle pack” of countries when it comes to service maturity and citizen service delivery experience.

While the U.S. clearly has the technology infrastructure in place to provide, the survey finds it tends to favor cost-cutting and efficiencies over citizen engagement. Citizens see those efforts as “government focused” as opposed to being truly “citizen centered.” The study notes, however, that there are opportunities for the U.S. to increase its engagement by leveraging digital technology creatively for public-facing sites rather than strictly for government purposes.  

Key takeaways include:

  • 45 percent of U.S. citizens said they want to communicate with government via social media;  55 percent said they were not interested in doing that.
  • The United States ranked first in the criteria of service maturity, with its sophisticated and pervasive Internet presence across federal government services.
  • Almost half (48 percent) of online citizens, across all the countries included in the survey, say they use digital channels at least fairly often to do business with government public services. The U.S. was just below the average at 46 percent, well above Brazil (31 percent) and Germany (24 percent).
  • Seventy-six percent of U.S. respondents would like their government to provide more services through digital channels.

Verbatim: Citizens listed top priorities they felt governments needed to focus on to improve public services. They are:

  • Publish information on public services so that citizens can evaluate the effectiveness.
  • Provide more services through digital channels, such as online or mobile.
  • Understand the priorities of citizens and communities better.
  • Provide services in a more cost-effective way.
  • Make sure that services are tailored to the needs of people using them.
  • Work more closely with businesses and nonprofit organizations.
  • Improve the skills of people who work in public service.
  • Improve understanding of what works well and what doesn’t.
  • Involve citizens in deciding how public services should work.
  • Respond to changes flexibly, such as adopting new technologies or an increased demand for a particular service.
  • Plan for the long term, not just the next few years.


About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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Reader comments

Tue, Feb 25, 2014 Fritz von Fleckenstein Washington DC

Why these particular 10 countries? I would be interested to see more countries, such as China, which have a lot of computer users.

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