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Mixed results for Europe in UN e-government league table

Norway has been ranked as the best provider of e-government services in Europe in a new report by the UN Division for Public Economics and Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). However, the best European nation finished behind the top...

Norway has been ranked as the best provider of e-government services in Europe in a new report by the UN Division for Public Economics and Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). However, the best European nation finished behind the top four of USA, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The top EU Member State is the United Kingdom, which ranked seventh, closely followed by the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany respectively. Nevertheless, the report says that Europe is a 'global innovator and leader in strategic planning...information access and citizen participation'. In 33 of the 36 European countries surveyed, all the key ministries targeted as benchmarks - health, education, social services, employment and finance - offer interactive sites and provide regularly updated content. The UK, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Estonia, Belgium and Italy are judged to be 'particularly advanced' in policy regarding official government information and content available to their residents. The European Union as a whole is recognised for 'developing a set of guidelines that will ensure that the 15 Member-States' e-government programmes complement each other'. On the ground, however, citizen acceptance of e-government was 'modest' in 2001, according to the report. This is attributed to a number of factors, including the cost of Internet provider services and the cost of telephone services. Despite an online population index of 24.9 per cent, which is more than double the global average, the Internet has 'not been the phenomena in the majority of European countries that it has been in the United States or Canada'. As with any index of its kind, the league table in the UN/ASPA report is compiled on the basis of how countries match a given list of criteria. The criteria in this report concern three broad areas: government's provision of online service, ICT infrastructure (number of PCs, internet hosts, etc) and finally, the extent of citizens' opportunity and ability to access online government. These criteria repay closer inspection as, for example, the 'Urban as percentage of Total population' criteria gives Singapore (with its 100 per cent urban population) a higher ranking than it might otherwise have achieved. For more details on the criteria used, see pp 24-26 of the report at the link provided below.

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