Survey: Ads better than fees

Public Opinion Strategies National Survey

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Americans would rather see advertising on government Web sites than be charged

convenience fees, according to a national survey just released.

Fifty-six percent of registered voters in the survey released by eGovNet,

a Columbus, Ohio-based e-government and advertising network provider, supported

the use of "appropriate" advertising while 23 percent said they'd rather

pay user fees for government Internet services. "Appropriate" was defined

as ads of goods and services legally available to users of all ages.

The random, national telephone survey of 642 voters, conducted by Public

Opinion Strategies from Sept. 5 to 10, tried to measure the attitudes of

users "about funding e-government initiatives with advertising on government

Web sites, convenience or user fees and with tax dollars." Of those surveyed,

60 percent said they access the Internet or send and receive e-mail.

"The bottom line is there is a real demand for e-government services.

Then the question always becomes, If we're going to provide for these services,

how are we going to pay for it?" said Jon Allison, eGovNet's director of

professional licensure services and the coordinator of the survey.

Although a "very small number" of governments are actually doing it,

Allison said advertising on government sites is a viable, alternative-funding

method. The survey also found that:

* Two-thirds of the voters surveyed who go online support advertising

on government Web sites rather than paying a user fee.

* Given a choice, 47 percent of all respondents said governments should

charge convenience fees rather than using tax dollars for online services.

Twenty-eight percent supported tax-dollar use.

* More than 60 percent of all respondents agreed that it's okay for

governments to use advertising to reduce the amount of tax dollars needed

to provide online services.

* Sixty-six percent of all respondents said government decisions to

allow such ads make no difference in their willingness to use online services.

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