How e-governments stack up

Barely three years after its debut in the United States, electronic government has taken off worldwide. Experts complain that governments' online offerings are limited to presenting information and that they have yet to harness the power of the Internet to provide public services.

Even so, international efforts show that it's becoming incrementally easier for citizens to interact with their governments.

The following is a snapshot of e-government services offered around the world.

Australia: Using "smart forms," Australians file 75 percent of their taxes online.

Brazil: 130 million Brazilians voted electronically in elections in 2000. Votes were counted within 24 hours.

Canada: Government On-Line plan seeks to tie e-government activities of 126 federal departments with services offered by provinces and municipalities by 2004.

China: China's 10th five-year plan calls for building a network infrastructure that will enable the government to go online in 2005.

Czech Republic: 80 percent of customs declarations are submitted electronically.

Estonia: "Electronic cabinet" allows government ministers to read proposed laws, make comments and suggestions, and carry out votes entirely online.

France: Requires medium and large businesses to pay taxes electronically.

Scotland: Citizens can submit electronic petitions to parliament.

Singapore: Led the development of a Web portal to make government information and services easy to find.

Spain: 40 million citizens hold smart cards that provide access to information and government services at kiosks.

United Kingdom: Set a goal to deliver all government services electronically by 2005.

United States: Federal Web developers are beginning to tie related services together through multiagency portals, but the United States still lacks an overall e-government plan.

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