Australians prefer e-government, still don't use it

The Federal government has released a report claiming that the Internet is now the preferred method for Australians to contact the government.

The Federal government has released a report claiming that the Internet is now the preferred method for Australians to contact the government — but there's always room for e-government improvement, according to Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.

According to a study by the AGIMO, 41 percent of respondents said the Internet was their preferred channel, even though many still do not use the Web as their primary form of communication with the government.

Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner

Credit: Minister's Office

"Many people use non e-government channels even though these are not their preference. Most people would prefer to contact government using an e-government service, indicating a potentially strong future for greater e-government use," the report said.

Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, described the Internet as "indispensable" for the delivery of government services to the Australian public.

"Use of the Internet to access government services has changed significantly since these reports began in 2005," he said in a statement.

"As the report shows, 25 percent of people now conduct all or most of their dealings with government over the Internet, up from 14 percent in 2004-05. Three in five people — or 59 percent — used the Internet to access government services in 2007, a 20 percent increase compared with 2004-05 usage rates," he said.

In addition to assessing the overall use of e-government services by the public, the report identified an emerging issue associated with the length of time it took for users to receive a response after contacting government online, with AGIMO finding it to be the most common cause for dissatisfaction with e-government services.

The report states: "People are less satisfied, however, with the amount of time it took to receive a reply to an enquiry (84 percent), a result also consistent with previous studies."

"However people prefer to access government services, this report provides a solid foundation for governments and agencies at every level to improve how their services are delivered," said Tanner.

Information from the report will also be given to British procurement expert Sir Peter Gershon, to assist in his independent review of the use of ICT across Australian government.