Online government: a surfer’s guide

For whatever reason – cost of paper, public pressure, political tastes – governments around the world are going online. Here is a guide to some of the web sites. 

OECD members have embarked on an "e-government revolution", using new technologies to provide more convenient access to public information, improve the quality of public services and make it easier for citizens to have a say in government.

All OECD countries provide government information online, but the quantity and range varies considerably. Some OECD governments have tried to organise online services to reflect the way citizens use them and not internal bureaucratic structures. The government web portals of the United States and Norway provide a single entry point to access hundreds of public web sites.

• United States: http://www.firstgov.gov

• Norway: (national portal) http://www.norge.no

Whereas the first step to going on line involves digitising government information, the second stage of e-government is delivering interactive services to citizens. Perhaps not surprisingly, tax collection is one of the areas in which countries have made the most progress in terms of web accessibility (see article on Chile in this section). Citizens can pay their taxes online in a number of countries, including France, Australia, Greece and Italy.

• France: http://www.finances.gouv.fr/IR2000/ir2000.htm

• Australia (e-tax): http://www.ato.gov.au

• Greece (TAXISnet): http://www.taxisnet.gr

• Italy (pilot project): http://www.finanze.it/

E-government is changing the way that services are delivered. Sweden, for example, has proposed criteria for providing central e-government services 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7 services). Countries are also increasing access to e-government information and services by making the Internet available in public libraries, schools and public spaces. Portugal and Spain have both installed public kiosks for e-government services. And Internet terminals can now be found in some Paris metro stations.

• Sweden (24/7 plan): http://www.statskontoret.se/24-timmarsmyndighet/summary.html

• Spain (Citizen Attention Points): http://www.map.es

• Portugal (INFOCID): http://www.infocid.pt

The third stage of e-government is increasingly interactive, allowing governments to use information technology tools to engage citizens in the development of policies, programmes and services.

E-government makes it easier than ever to collect user feedback in order to improve and tailor services. Countries are also experimenting with different forms of on-line consultation and e-democracy (electronic and online voting), although no country has yet fully installed a system allowing citizens to vote online instead of going to the polling station during national elections. Governments do however post policy documents and draft laws on web sites for comment, and are able to receive solicited and unsolicited feedback. The Netherlands and Canada are developing consultation guidelines for improving citizen participation in public decision-making.

• Netherlands: (consultation guide) http://www.minbzk.nl/pdf/eo/actie/elcivco.pdf; (list of electronic discussions) http://www.overheid.nl/discussies.htm

• Canada: (consultation on WTO) http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/tna-nac/consult-e.asp

None of these initiatives, however, will work unless governments change their internal practices to keep up with the increased pace and quality demands of providing e-government services. This includes improving internal communications and knowledge management, providing incentives for reform, and learning how to manage large-scale IT investments. Many OECD countries have published strategic plans for implementing their e-government initiatives. The UK Modernising Government White Paper, for example, includes multi-year targets for moving services online (see article in this section by Lucian Hudson). Governments also need to ensure privacy and compatibility of systems in order to provide a secure and reliable framework for electronic transactions. Finland recently passed legislation on electronic transactions that provide guidance for the whole administrative process, from filing a request to getting a decision.

• United Kingdom: www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/moderngov/whtpaper/index.htm

• Finland: http://www.om.fi/

OECD’s public management service is working with the Italian government to organise the Third Global Forum on Governance, on 15-17 March 2001 in Naples, Italy. The forum, entitled "Fostering Democracy and Development through E-government", will look at good e-government practices as well as governance implications and ways to bridge the digital divide.

©OECD Observer No 224, January 2001




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • COP21 Will Get Agreement With Teeth: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on Bloomberg

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.

  • Climate change: “We should not disagree when scientists tell us we have a window of opportunity–10-15 years–to turn this thing around” argues Senator Bernie Sanders.

  • In the long-run, the EU benefits from migration, says OECD Head of International Migration Division Jean-Christophe Dumont.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Unemployment
Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016