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Rethinking e-Government Services

User-Centred Approaches

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Expecting substantial savings and improved public services – a trend further accentuated by the financial and economic crisis beginning in 2008 – OECD countries have invested in the development of e-government services over the past 10-15 years. However, despite the initial exceptional take-up, governments later saw low adoption and low use of e-government services which are still far from satisfactory today.

This report gives a broad description of the shift in governments' focus on e-government development –  from a government-centric to a user-centric approach. It gives a comprehensive overview of challenges to user take-up of e-government services in OECD countries and of the different types of approaches to improving it. The monitoring and evaluation of user take-up are also discussed, including the existence of formal measurement frameworks. Good practices are presented to illustrate the different concrete approaches used by OECD countries.

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Challenges to User Take-up

The paradigm shift towards user centricity has helped to focus governments’ attention on ensuring user take-up of e-government services. To understand the reasons why users utilise e-government services, one must understand the different preconditions for using those services. These are: access to infrastructure and equipment, provision of e-government services, awareness of service provision, organisation of services, outcomes of implementation, and trust. Access to, and provision of, e-government services are fundamental to the discussion of user take-up. Since the early 1990s, e-government has been largely driven by technology. The new opportunities technological development provided were used to improve government administrations and the quality and speed of service delivery. Improvements in the penetration of broadband and the development and the increased provision of sophisticated transaction-oriented and integrated services are factors that provide the prerequisites for increased user take-up. A number of socio-economic and demographic factors need to be taken into account. Age, gender, education, income, location, employment and occupation are telling the story that the younger, richer, better educated and urban-bound a person is, the more likely this person will use e-government services over more traditional service channels. Users distinguish between the types of services or function they are comfortable with accessing on line and those they prefer to handle via traditional channels, or for which a mixture of the two is most appropriate.

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