Asian countries strong in e-government

Singapore has the most developed electronic government systems in Asia, but Hong Kong has advanced fastest in e-government deployment in 2001, according to a research study released last week by Accenture Ltd.

Australia is also highly ranked in e-government deployment, with Japan and Malaysia slightly further behind, according to the study. The study was restricted to 23 countries worldwide and did not include potential Asian e-government high-flyers such as South Korea and Taiwan.

Overall, Singapore ranked second behind Canada in the survey, which measures the range of e-government services available, their accessibility to ordinary citizens and the depth of those services – the extent to which detailed and secure two-way transactions can be carried out.

Hong Kong ranked eighth overall in the study but improved its overall score by over 20 per cent, the third-fastest improver in the countries surveyed, according to the Accenture study. Australia, ranked fourth overall, improved its score by nearly 15 per cent.

Singapore has now placed over 95 per cent of its government services online, followed by Hong Kong (91 per cent), Japan (90 per cent), Australia (89 per cent), New Zealand (85 per cent) and Malaysia (74 per cent).

In terms of service depth, Singapore led with a score of 69 per cent, ahead of Hong Kong (66 per cent), Australia (50 per cent), New Zealand (46 per cent), Japan (38 per cent) and Malaysia (34 per cent).

Australia and New Zealand are the regional leaders in terms of CRM (customer relationship management) in e-government – treating citizens and businesses like customers by tailoring services to their needs rather than the needs of the agency delivering them, according to the study.

According to previous research surveys, other Asian countries implementing e-government through strategic plans include Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, and some of India’s state governments.

Governments have made considerable strides recently in defining their e-government policies, replacing a “build it and they will come” mentality with a more service-based approach, according to Accenture.

“The rhetorical flourishes have been largely replaced by pragmatic statements about why e-government is critical to economic and social development, with recognition of the barriers to implementation and clearly articulated strategies,” Accenture said in the study.

According to Accenture, key criteria for successful e-government projects include:

– e-government must deliver real benefits to the citizens

– online services must be marketed to drive take-up

– entire transactions must be completed on line to drive costs down

“Implementing the changes necessary to truly capture the benefits of e-government is far more complex than simply creating an Internet presence,” Accenture said. “Achieving end-to-end integration requires changes to administrative structures, development of new skills and redesign of processes.”

Smart cards will be a key initiative in enabling citizens to conduct detailed and secure transactions with government online, with Malaysia and Hong Kong currently leading Asia in smart card deployment, Accenture said.

At the end of 2001, Canada had the most developed e-government in the world, followed by Singapore, the United States, Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, Hong Kong, Germany and Ireland, according to Accenture’s ranking.