Citizens perceive govt as unresponsive online

Citizens feel their government officials won't respond to queries online, while businesses say public sector is averse to online transactions, finds new global survey.

SINGAPORE--A majority of citizens cite unresponsive public officials as a major barrier to engaging online public services, while businesses say public officials are averse to online transactions and still prefer paper documents, according to a new global survey.

The adoption of e-government varied in speed across countries but the study found that stakeholders appeared to blame each other for the slow adoption of e-government services, David Line, senior editor for industry and management research at Economist Intelligence Unit and the editor for the study, said at a media briefing here Monday.

Conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Siemens' global Center of Competence, the survey--entitled "ICT for City Management"--polled 2,800 respondents who were divided into three stakeholder groups: government officials, businesses and citizens.

Line noted that 52 percent of public officials cited the lack of proper technology as a barrier, but almost as many also pointed to citizen mindset against online transactions as a major barrier to e-government initiatives.

According to the survey, more than 50 percent of businesses polled cited a lack of efficiency, transparency and accountability in government, complex and overlapping regulations and policies, as well as a lack of engagement with businesses and investors as major barriers to city competitiveness.

Enterprises pointed to "silo mentalities" among government agencies as a barrier to the adoption of e-services.

The survey also noted that businesses perceive "the attitude of public officials" to be the biggest barrier to a wider adoption of e-government services. Citizens polled in the study also indicated that government officials were unlike to respond to their queries online. In stark comparison, public officials surveyed blamed resistance from citizens toward online transactions as one of the greatest challenges to the adoption of e-government services.

"Such finger-pointing reflects the fact that the successful adoption of e-service delivery requires attitudinal shifts on the part of all stakeholders," according to the survey.

Line noted that to drive the adoption of e-government, stakeholders will need to work together.

Klaus Heidinger, head of Global Center of Competence for City Management at Siemens IT solutions and services, pointed to Singapore as an example of countries making significant efforts in pushing online participation with the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) initiative.

Line added that Singapore had performed above its peers and had enforced itself as one of the most ICT-savvy cities.

In fact, he said the survey found that 94 percent of Singapore business respondents paid their taxes online, compared to the global average of 66 percent.

The study, which was conducted in March and April this year, surveyed 240 public officials, 300 business executive and 2,250 citizens from 15 cities in 12 countries, including three Asian cities Mumbai, Shanghai and Singapore.

Heidinger said the study findings reflect that ICT is now regarded as the "fifth utility" in cities, after electricity, gas, water and telephony.

According to the survey, 77 percent of businesses said an improved broadband network would have significant impact on city competitiveness, making it to the most important ICT technology to attract private sector investment.

As a result, city planners must consider such technologies as fundamental to a city's infrastructure as are its buildings, transport networks and utilities.

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