It’s a four-peat.
Canada has once again increased its worldwide lead in e-government, according to Accenture’s annual review, e-Government Leadership: High Performance, Maximum Value.
This is the fourth year in a row that Canada has topped Accenture’s list. Over the past year, Canada’s focus on self-examination, and relentless pursuit of user feedback, has allowed it to continue to build what is clearly one of the world’s leading customer-focused government online programs.
Canada has clearly embraced the notion of service transformation. The government has realized that the value of online service is not an end unto itself, but part of a much longer and larger journey. The requirement now is to rethink how the government delivers services and interacts with business, communities and citizens.
That having been said, however, Canada is leading a slowing parade. Accenture’s research clearly shows that, with few exceptions, e-government initiatives are dwindling. The average e-government maturity increase across all countries in 2004 was 5.6 per cent, compared to an average of 7.4 per cent in 2003 and 11.5 per cent in 2002.
Still, Canada’s e-government program continues to set the standard for the rest of the world, increasing by nine per cent against gains of six per cent for its closest challengers, Singapore and the United States. Canada was once again the leader across all categories of e-government maturity – service breadth, service depth and customer relationship management.
Looking at Canada’s performance over the past few years, it is clear to see why the country consistently scores so high. As in many other countries, Canada’s vision of e-government is predicated on the idea of customer-centricity and a whole-of-government approach. Unlike many countries, however, Canada’s action plan is built on a solid foundation of fact.
Canada’s program of regularly surveying citizens and businesses for indications of attitudes and needs appears to be the most extensive of any of the countries in this leadership survey.
Canada also regularly reviews its overall progress with a comprehensive set of performance management tools. This approach has allowed it to enhance its existing online offerings and build innovative new services. For example, the Canada portal, www.canada.gc.ca, saw a number of enhancements to the main site, and to each of the client-centred gateways, which were validated by focus group testing.
Other individual agencies report dramatic increases in usage. For example, the Canada Health Portal (http://chp-pcs.gc.ca/index.jsp), which was launched in May 2002, recorded an increase in hits of 1,000 per cent in the first nine months of operation.
Canada is fast approaching the highest levels of e-government maturity. But there are still challenges and needed improvements ahead. Clearly, the full benefits of e-government will be realized only if citizens and businesses use it. But most governments still find themselves confronted with the challenge of low usage and the need for innovative methods to drive take-up.
In fact, Accenture’s e-citizen survey this year showed that even among the most mature countries, take-up is less than optimal. In Canada, 41 per cent of regular Internet users rarely or never have visited a government Web site.
Behind Canada, Singapore shows signs of an upswing in its growth rate. Singapore’s e-government program has been reinvigorated; it has updated its e-government action plan, setting five new strategic priorities that stress exploiting the strong e-government foundations put in place between 2000 and 2003.
The United States, while still a steady and strong performer, seems somewhat less ambitious in comparison. The country had below average improvement in its over all customer relationship management score and seemed to show more improvement at the agency level, rather than through government-wide initiatives.
Graeme Gordon ([email protected]) is a partner in the Government Operating Group of Accenture, where he is responsible for the company’s e-government practice in Canada.
For a copy of Accenture’s study “e-Government Leadership: High Performance, Maximum Value,” visit: www.accenture.ca