6. E-government

Individuals using the Internet to interact with public authorities, by age, 2016
As a percentage of population in each age group

Source: OECD, ICT access and use database, (households and individuals), http://oe.cd/hhind (accessed in June 2017). StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.


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Over 50% of individuals interact with governments online in OECD countries. However, this proportion can vary widely, ranging from 80% in the Nordic countries to below 10% in Japan.

The share of individuals using the Internet to interact with public authorities in OECD countries has increased in recent years, from 46% in 2010 to 54% in 2016. Cross-country differences remain large, however, ranging from over 80% in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Finland to 5% in Japan. Use by individuals in the 55-74-years-old bracket remains significantly lower than average in all countries.

Cross-country differences may reflect differences in Internet usage rates, the supply of e-government services and the propensity of users to perform administrative procedures online, as well as limited data comparability. On average, less than 4% of EU citizens who had to submit a completed form to public authorities in 2016 reported not submitting online because the service was not available. The share was much higher in Germany (13%).

Concerns about protection and security of personal data are also reported as a frequent reason for not submitting official forms online. In 2016, 21% of Europeans chose not to submit completed forms to public authorities and, on average, 22% among those cited privacy and security concerns as a reason for not doing so. This was particularly the case in Germany (38%), Portugal (34%) and Hungary (33%).

Use of the Internet to send documents to public authorities is more common among firms than individuals, as enterprises undertake administrative procedures more frequently. In some cases, use of online tools is mandatory by law. In 2015, 36% of EU firms sent an invoice online to public authorities, although this share ranges from 70% in Denmark to 17% in the Czech Republic. In all EU countries except Denmark, use of the Internet for this purpose is higher among large firms than small ones.


Individuals’ online interactions with public authorities range from the simple collection of information on government websites to interactive procedures where completed forms are sent via the Internet – excluding interaction via e-mail (for businesses) or manually typed e-mails (for individuals).

Public authorities refer to both public services and administration activities. These may be authorities at the local, regional or national level.

Electronic signatures and electronic ID/certificates are intended to provide users with a secure and accurate identification method for the submission of online forms.

Size classes are defined as: small (from 10 to 49 persons employed) and large (250 and more).

Individuals not submitting official forms online due to privacy and security concerns, 2016
As a percentage of individuals having chosen not to submit online

Source: OECD, based on Eurostat, Digital Economy and Society Statistics, Comprehensive Database, July 2017. See chapter notes.


Businesses using the Internet to send invoices to the public authorities, by size, 2015
As a percentage of businesses in each employment size class

Source: OECD, based on Eurostat, Digital Economy and Society Statistics, Comprehensive Database, July 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.



E-government can be measured by collecting information on electronic services offered by government entities (supply-side approach) or on the use of these services by businesses and individuals (demand-side approach). In recognition of the statistical difficulties of the supply-side approach, the OECD and other international organisations have adopted a demand-side approach. Such an approach is not without difficulties, however. As the same services (e.g. transport, education, health) are provided by government in some countries and by public or private sector businesses in others, the scope for e-government service use by individuals and firms will differ among countries. These structural differences are likely to affect not only international comparability, but also comparability over time within countries.

The OECD is actively engaged in the collection of comparable and more detailed information in this field, by means of its Model Surveys on ICT usage by households/individuals (OECD, 2015b) and by businesses (OECD, 2015c). Other complementary ways to collect information are also being explored, including by means of information on public administration web-portals.