وعده فراموش شده تحقق دولت الکترونیک: ارزیابی پاسخگویی در بخش دیجیتالی دولتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|9008||2011||7 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Government Information Quarterly, Volume 28, Issue 4, October 2011, Pages 439–445
Assessing e-government responsiveness is one of the major gaps in the currently dominant e-government maturity models. While we have a relatively large pool of models focusing on technological and organizational integration from a supply side perspective, measures of responsiveness of e-government systems from a user perspective are still lacking. Replicating a study from New Zealand and Australia, this study explores the response time and quality of e-mail response in Danish local and central governments (N = 175). Despite that Denmark is high ranking in international benchmark studies, we find that one third of central government agencies did not respond at all, and close to 80% of the ministries provided none or incomplete answers. Local government responds faster and provides answers that are more complete and accurate than those provided by central government. Implications for e-government are discussed.
The Scandinavian countries have a well-established record of top ranking in e-government service readiness in many international studies and benchmarking reports (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2009 and United Nations Public Administration Network, 2010). High internet penetration rates, the development of an advanced private and public IT infrastructure, high digital literacy rates, and the extensive development of digital services in the public sector make countries such as Denmark an ideal case for assessing the impact of information technology on the changing relationship between public information systems and their users, the citizens (Andersen, Bjørn-Andersen, & Dedrick, 2003). The digitalization of communication with citizens and businesses is one of the cornerstones of the digitalization of the public sector (Andersen, 2002). In the last decades, massive investments from governments across the world have been directed for the design, implementation, and management of information systems in public agencies providing a window for online interaction with citizens and businesses. An increasing number of governments have now established a record of adopting national strategies for the adoption of e-government solutions, aimed at achieving objectives of increased efficiency vis-à-vis businesses, citizens, and civil society organizations. Digital government “encompasses the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enable citizens, politicians, government agencies, and other organizations to work among themselves and with each other and to carry out activities that support civic life” (Robertson & Vatrapu, 2010, p. 319). Based on an analysis of several definitions of digital government, Robertson and Vatrapu (2010) conclude that [T]he major stakeholders for digital government are citizens, administrative bodies within government, and businesses. The aims are typical for ICT deployment: streamlining and simplifying administrative processes, cost cutting, improving services, and generally improving efficiency (Robertson & Vatrapu, 2010, p. 319). Despite the emergence of Web 2.0 and synchronous communication technologies — such as chat and video conferencing — e-mail, which has been a frontrunner in citizen–government interaction before, and in parallel with, webpage-oriented online self-service, is still the dominant means of digital communication adopted in public sector organizations. Facing time-consuming and costly communication through ordinary postal services, e-mail provides a price competitive and more reliable channel for asynchronous communication for both the providers and users of e-government services. e-Mail has been adopted by all government offices and became the preferred technology for transferring files from one office to another. However, due to some of the inherent problems with it, governments have recently tried to supplement the use of e-mail with self-service, using e-mail especially in relation to the unstructured information that is often communicated through this channel. e-Mail communication is context-sensitive, and users can experience loss of meaning or be provided with wrong information if the communication is received out of its original context. e-Mail users also often experience information overload, e.g. when having to manage inboxes filled with irrelevant e-mails sent by mailing lists, unsolicited e-mails sent by spammers, and by unimportant e-mails cc'd to all recipients. Furthermore, the use of asynchronous media such as e-mail often results in inconsistency in information content, since the frequency of e-mail updates is not necessarily evenly distributed and synchronized among the people working on a specific document. Yet, e-mail is widely spread in government and the most widely used medium of information technology-enabled communication between citizens/companies and the public sector, whereas other technologies, such as ftp, chat, social network services, are still marginal in use. Information systems strategies in the public sector are now increasingly focused on shifting from a government-centered perspective, to a user-centered one (OECD, 2009). In such a user-centered perspective, dimensions of citizen inclusion, participation, user satisfaction and responsiveness gain crucial relevance (Scott, DeLone, & Golden, 2009). The measurement of e-government progress on the supply-side (that is, the government-side) has progressed to a relevant extent, as testified by the growth of studies on issues such as public website sophistication, usability, etc., and the emergence of public and private initiatives of e-government performance ranking, benchmarking, and awards (Sørum, Medaglia, & Andersen, 2009). However, the demand-side (that is, the user/citizen-side) of e-government service measurement still remains underexplored. Critics argue that, despite large investments, e-government policy makers are failing to achieve the objectives of increased efficiency, transparency, and responsiveness of the digital public services (Goldfinch, 2007, Heeks and Bailur, 2007 and Helbig et al., 2009), but there is an absence of studies supporting these claims, and a lack of focus on the measurement of responsiveness of public information system-based services. As more and more citizens are using public information systems to interact with government and consume public services, the measurement of public information system success from a citizen perspective becomes one of the most important aspects to focus on (Rosacker and Olson, 2008, Scott et al., 2009 and Wang and Liao, 2008). The responsiveness element of information systems is particularly relevant in a public sector context, in which not only service efficiency, but also the very legitimacy of governmental bodies is at stake. Further, for a modern welfare state such as Denmark, responsiveness of public information system-based services is even more relevant and important. This paper aims to assess the responsiveness of information systems in the public sector by analyzing data on the e-mail response time of public agencies in Denmark, compared to the public agencies in New Zealand and Australia, drawing on previous research by Gauld, Gray, and McComb (2009). In particular, we are interested in the efficiency and effectiveness of e-mail inquiries across the municipal, regional and national levels of government in Denmark. We aim to contribute to the development of a citizen-centered perspective in e-government success measurement. The design of this study on e-mail response times in the public sector closely follows the approach of a study conducted in New Zealand and Australia (Gauld et al., 2009). Although there are other studies on e-mail responsiveness in the public sector (Dečman, 2005, Kunstelj and Dečman, 2005 and West, 2004), we have chosen to follow the overall research design of the New Zealand/Australia study both to help with solving the general information systems (IS) challenge of a lack of cumulative studies, and to provide comparability between cases that are perceived to be similarly high-ranking, according to global e-government readiness studies. The next section discusses responsiveness as a needed input for the further development of e-government maturity models. The following section presents the case of Denmark, compared to the cases of Australia and New Zealand, and their relevance against international rankings of e-government readiness. After a section that provides information on data collection and data analysis, we discuss comparative data on e-mail response times and content quality of the responses, divided by country and institutional level. In the conclusion we discuss the results and contributions of the study, highlight limitations, and suggest directions for future research on IS responsiveness from a citizen point of view.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
According to the International Standards Organization's standard ISO 9241–11, usability is the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use. In the realm of e-government, the “specified users” are the major stakeholders (citizens, public sector employees, businesses). The “specified context of use” could be as mundane as sending an e-mail inquiring about the office location and opening hours, or as complex as filling out online tax forms. The “specified goals” are the immediate goals of the citizen users of the e-government information systems, as well as the systemic goals set by the government (such as efficiency, cost savings, transparency, accountability etc.). In this study we have measured effectiveness and efficiency of one particular e-government information system (e-mail) from a (fictive) user perspective. Clearly, there is room for replicating the study from a citizen point of view to determine subjective notions of efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. The swift and accurate response by Danish municipalities is contrasted by the slow and incomplete responses by central government offices. Similar contrasts were found in the Australian and New Zealand studies. In Denmark, nearly one-third of national authorities have not responded after three full working days. Moreover, municipalities respond with richer information, for example by attaching a map and/or indicating GPS coordinates. Interpreting the data from the e-mail survey as an indicator of digital skeletons and a horror cabinet, rather than a glorifying image as leader of the information society, is not likely to be popular among policy makers and advocates for more e-government. Yet, the data from central government in Denmark clearly indicates that the patterns of sending e-mails and not receiving complete and timely response do not correspond to the international high rankings. Comparing data from Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark reveals not only the skeletons of central government, it also allows for formulating the interpretation that the international rankings require some revision. In the international rankings New Zealand is trailing the two other countries, but in the e-mail response time and content quality, New Zealand is either on a par with or, in some instances, ahead of Denmark. Australia is in all variables lagging behind Denmark and New Zealand. Though the results should be interpreted with care due to the limited scope of the study which, after all, only focused on a single semi-automated service (e-mail), the study has highlighted the weakness of maturity models as an instrument for national rankings. The three countries included in the e-mail study are all ranked highly in various indexes. Nonetheless, when it comes to actual service of citizens and businesses, e-government services fail to deliver. This indicates that rankings only tell half the story. One recommendation that is in line with the aforementioned Andersen and Henriksen (2006) maturity model is to include other indicators in the maturity model. Such indicators need to focus on servicing end-users rather than the public administration. We aimed at filling a gap in understanding net benefits of e-government from an information systems (IS) perspective, by analyzing data on responsiveness in using e-mail communication, which is the dominant information system in the public sector. Although we are witnessing the beginning of a growth of studies on the benefits of the use of IS in the public sector interaction with citizens and companies, research on the topic area is still largely dominated by approaches that focus on the diffusion and adoption of e-government services from a supply-side perspective. One of the limitations of this study is that we have not conducted an analysis of the institutional reality of these different governmental levels from an information systems perspective. That is, in this paper we did not inquire into the organizational structures, information technology policies, and managerial practices for handling citizen inquiries. This was highlighted one decade ago by Jane Fountain (Fountain, 2001). She argued that the organizational change plays a central role when establishing a virtual government. In one of her reported case studies Fountain observed that especially responses to e-mail can be a problem in larger agencies because responsibility of e-mail handling has never been properly delegated to a particular person (Fountain, 2001, p. 158). Data collection was carried out using the internet to distribute the survey instrument. However, given its audience it is questionable if the caveats normally raised in relation to internet research were challenged. Buchanan (2009) highlights the problem of anonymity of the sender of a survey instrument in internet-based data collection, and in particular the issue of the informants not being aware of their participation in studies (for example, when Facebook behavior is observed). In our case, the fictive sender of the e-mail responded to the official e-mail entry of the organization asking a harmless question. However, there was one problem: the recipients of the e-mail did not get any direct information about their participation in the experiment. This problem represents an ethical issue which should be dealt with in a more careful manner in future studies. Moreover, a valid methodological concern was whether the e-mails we sent in this survey could have been perceived as unserious, as senders usually are expected to be able to find information on physical addresses and office opening hours on the website by themselves. While this theoretically could be the case, the high response rate in the municipalities made this assumption unlikely to be valid. Assuming that the difference in response from local and central government can be explained by some recipients perceiving that the mails were irrelevant, we could nonetheless not explain why the data in Denmark as well as in New Zealand and Australia clearly show a difference in how fast they respond, in the response rate, and in the content/quality of the response. An issue that will be worth considering in further research concerns the use of fictive users in assessing responsiveness. While simulating a fictive user for collecting data on the interaction processes between citizens and e-government systems has obvious advantages of saving time and resources and replicability, there are strong arguments in favor of alternative strategies, such as real user experiments, “proxy users”, and so forth. The research model we have used in this study clearly does not allow us to give explanations of the findings and we therefore encourage further research. One thing that would be valuable to investigate is if there is a difference in explicit e-mail policy, with more direct and instrumental e-mail policies in local government compared to central government. Another avenue of follow-up research is to investigate if there is a systematic difference in staffing with one person in charge in municipalities and several in charge of answering the e-mails sent to the official e-mail address in central government. Following this proposition, it could be that the incoming e-mails in central government fall between the cracks. Future research could also examine the presence and responsiveness of government agencies on social networking sites such as Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter (http://www.twitter.com). Instead of waiting for citizens to contact the government at the touchpoints of government websites and e-mail systems, it could be that the government goes to the new media “virtual publics” to deliver services in-situ.