NZ has no worries on e-govt survey fall

New Zealand’s State Services Minister Trevor Mallard says he has no “great concern” about the country’s apparent drop in form in the global race to be ready for electronic government.

The latest annual e-government readiness survey from international consultancy Accenture Ltd. puts New Zealand in 14th place out of 23 countries surveyed. That’s five places down on last year, as other countries made more rapid advances.

“Developments in our e-government program are significant this year and I am sure that will be reflected in future surveys,” Mallard said.

One new nation in the survey, Denmark, has entered well above New Zealand and other countries that started behind New Zealand are pulling ahead faster in Accenture’s overall assessment.

The overall maturity score combines scores for the proportion of government services accessible online (service breadth), the extent to which each electronic service has developed (service depth) and the overall maturity in customer relationship management (CRM).

Two years ago, New Zealand was in the runner-up rank, which Accenture used to call “visionary followers”, now known more optimistically as “visionary challengers”. In this and the previous survey it leads the third-ranked group; that of “emerging performers”, who used to be known as “steady achievers.”

The overall score in the survey comprises ratings for “breadth” of implementation, recording how many agencies have implemented some sort of e-government; and “depth” judging how far a particular implementation goes in meeting citizens’ needs.

The lowest depth is “publishing”, where a citizen can read information from an agency’s Web site but cannot submit his/her own information. The next is the “interact” level, where the citizen submits information but the agency does not respond. The highest is the “transact” level, where the flow goes both ways and the citizen can transact business, making a payment or obtaining an authorization, for example.

The CRM score combines five measures of the sophistication of service delivery, “helping citizens get the best value from their online interaction with government.”

New Zealand scores relatively highly on this last front, coming in sixth, ahead of generally high-ranking Singapore. But even this is a drop on last year’s rankings, when it was fourth.

New Zealand ranks 15th for “depth” and only 17th for “breadth”, last among the “emerging performers” and ahead of only the “platform builders”, those just starting out on the e-government road.

“Of the 140 services that the New Zealand government could deliver online, 121 are available to some degree, giving a service maturity breadth of 86.4 percent”, Accenture says.

“This is consistent with the global average and is an improvement on the previous service maturity. For example, citizens can e-mail their inquiries to the New Zealand Parliament Web site.

“New Zealand has made little progress in implementing mature services in the revenue sector, where delivery remains at the ‘publish’ level,” it records.