Study: New Brunswick e-gov initiatives beneficial to citizens

A recent study conducted by IDC Canada Ltd. for IT services firm CGI Group Inc. and Microsoft Canada Co. found that e-government solutions put in place by the province of New Brunswick proved to be well-accepted by citizens – meeting a key goal of the project.

The report entitled From Vision to Benefit: e-government Solutions Study – The New Brunswick Case – which was released to the media during a luncheon hosted by CGI at the company’s offices in Toronto on Tuesday – focused on using New Brunswick as a case study to address the concerns of key decision makers as well as to investigate any possible underlying economic benefits of e-government.

The IDC study followed the e-government initiatives underway by provincially owned Service New Brunswick Corp. (SNB), an organization dedicated to improving the delivery of government services to the public. SNB was created to provide all government services from one organization.

The purpose of this all-in-one facility was to allow citizens to complete all government transactions from one organization and to make all government forms and instructions available for completion online, virtually eradicating timely line-ups and boosting the productivity of New Brunswick citizens.

The government of New Brunswick wanted to satisfy several key initiatives through its e-government program, but above all, it wanted to significantly improve customer service, said Dennis Vance, group vice-president of consulting at IDC Canada in Toronto. He added that this particular objective was achieved overwhelmingly.

“It’s not surprising that the number one objective was customer satisfaction – any politician will tell you that customer satisfaction is good politics,” Vance said.

He added that customer satisfaction ranged from 45 per cent and 55 per cent before e-government initiatives were put in place, and climbed to 92 per cent after the fact.

Vance also noted that the cost of offering the existing services has not increased, “but the level of the services has greatly increased.”

Another objective that Vance said the province wanted to achieve through its e-government initiatives – to make New Brunswick a “technically savvy jurisdiction” – was also achieved.

According to the study, through its e-government initiatives New Brunswick has become the customer call centre capital of Eastern Canada with 95 centres in 2002, it has attracted many of the leading IT and communication companies and lastly, the province was selected in 2002 as the home of Canada’s National Research Council’s Institute for Information Technology e-business.

Vance refers to this last point as being “the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.”

He added that the success of the project was achieved in part because politicians, who can often become starry-eyed when new initiatives are introduced, remembered that “the focus has to be on serving the citizen, not on the technology.” Implementing a strategy that allowed for early and continuous success, or “swallowing the elephant one bite at a time” was also a key factor involved in the success of the initiative.

Vance said the e-government initiatives underway in New Brunswick are far more advanced to locations deploying similar initiatives including California, the United Kingdom and Australia.

A mandatory subscription for services was not made available to the SNB, meaning that the organization had to win the business of various government department heads, said Brian Freeman vice-president of Single Window Government Initiatives at CGI, the company that provides project management and systems integration to SNB.

Freeman added that SNB’s subscriptions grew from three municipalities contracted with the organization for one or more services 18 months ago, to 38 municipalities contracted with SNB today.

Services provided by SNB can be accessed over the Web, on the phone, by e-mail, at an SNB kiosk, or at one of the organization’s 36 regional office locations. On its Web site,, the organization breaks its services up into two categories: services for individuals and services for businesses.

The services geared toward individuals include: vehicle registration renewal; municipal payments; and change of address. Business services include: business registration and corporate affairs; business events; and online tenders.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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