Study: Government Web sites are big hit

2001 National Technology Readiness Survey

More than half of adult Internet users visited a government Web site within

the last year, according to a survey released Jan. 9.

Overall, 55 percent of online users accessed a government site, with

50 percent visiting a state or local government site and 33 percent visiting

a federal government site, according to the 2001 National Technology Readiness

Survey.

The survey was co-sponsored by the Center for e-Service at the University

of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and Rockbridge Associates

Inc., a technology market research firm.

Roland Rust, the center's director, said he was surprised at "how big

e-government is in terms of the number of people who actually use it." State

and local sites were visited more often than federal government sites, he

said, probably because users feel closer to their local governments, but

also because those sites are further along and better than the federal agency

sites. He was also surprised that more users conducted online business with

governments (21 percent) ranging from getting driver's licenses or hunting

permits to various permissions and information than did online banking

(20 percent), paid credit card bills (15 percent), or bought or sold stocks

(10 percent).

Yet, the survey also indicated that 53 percent of users purchased items

worth $10 to $100 via the Internet and 40 percent booked travel reservations

online, far more than the number doing business with government electronically.

Although the survey is in its third year, it's the first time researchers

included questions related to e-government. "The reason was we've been hearing

from companies and government agencies about a great deal of movement in

the areas of e-government. This was an area that was moving fast and advancing

quickly," Rust said.

The survey, conducted in November 2001, sampled the online behavior

of about 500 U.S. adults, 18 years or older, within the preceding 12 months.

There were about an equal number of men and women who were interviewed by

telephone, but the survey showed that more men conducted business online

than women.

Rust said he believed that's because men were early adopters of the

Internet, and they may be early adopters of e-government. However, he added,

"that variation will go away with time."

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