Study: U.S. not the leader in e-government

The United States ranks third, behind South Korea and Taiwan, in a comparison of national government Web sites and electronic government initiatives, according to a new study of 1,667 national government sites from 198 nations.

Although the U.S. government rose one spot in the rankings from last year, it is falling behind other countries in broadband access, public-sector innovation and implementation of the latest interactive tools on federal Web sites, according to a study released Aug. 17 by the Brookings Institution.

“The biggest change has been the declining dominance of American technology,” said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at Brookings. “I think the problem is that the U.S. is not investing in technology like other governments. I think the report should be a wake-up call for the United States.”

The United States has fallen behind other countries in terms of the percentage of people who have access to broadband and Internet services, the report states. For example, the United States, which had been ranked fourth among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations for broadband access in a 2001 survey, ranked 15th in 2007, according to the report.

Both presumptive presidential candidates have pledged to make expanding Internet access a priority, and West said Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) John McCain (R-Ariz.) are interested in technology development.

“Despite the great promise of technological advancement, public-sector innovation [related to e-government efforts] has tended to be small-scale and gradual,” the report states. “Factors such as institutional arrangements, budget scarcity, group conflict, cultural norms and prevailing patterns of social and political behavior have restricted government actions.”

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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