Gut check time for e-governing

When it comes to e-government, the United States is right where everyone else is: Realizing that a gut check is needed before more progress can be made.

Accenture on May 4 released its fifth global e-government study, which ranked the maturity of programs in 22 countries and examined their status and future steps. This year, for the first time, the report includes a study of citizens in 12 counties, looking at their use of and satisfaction with e-government services.

The United States tied for second in e-government maturity with Singapore, behind Canada, but that only scratches the surface of what is going on, said Steve Rohleder, group chief executive for Accenture's Global Government Practice.

This year marks "the beginning of an evolution," Rohleder said. "In a lot of the countries that we surveyed, we see a maturing in the e-government services, but we're also beginning to see the next wave of e-government. Government is beginning to realize they need to understand what citizens think of what they've done so far and to take action based on that."

The Office of Management and Budget last month launched an effort to determine what marketing should be done to increase use of federal cross-agency e-government initiatives. Some agencies have already done user surveys and focus groups, trying to adapt their services and products for the people who are using them, but others are only getting started, according to officials.

That same type of outreach and study is occurring around the world, according to e-government leaders from the United Kingdom and Canada, speaking at the Gartner Government Conference in Washington, D.C., this week.

"Now governments are really taking a step back and assessing what the benefits are of e-government -- to citizens and to themselves," agreed Derek Kearney, a manager in Accenture's Dublin, Ireland practice who helped lead the study. "Citizen input is key this year."

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