Survey: Singaporeans show strong support for e-gov services

Country's citizens face little difficulty interacting with government and using public services on digital channels, showing greater support than other participating countries, reveals Accenture survey.

Singaporeans are supportive of digital channels provided by the country's government, finding these services easy to use, according to an Accenture survey which reveals e-government usage is higher in the city-state than other countries polled.

Released Monday, the study found that more than half of citizens surveyed in Singapore found it easy to interact with their government online, with 80 percent noting it was easier to interact with government bodies than with the private sector. Respondents in the country also wanted increased access to public services and were more likely to use digital channels, including online and mobile resources, to conduct routine government business.

More than 70 percent of respondents already used the Internet to submit and track government forms and payments, Accenture said. It noted that one-third of Singapore respondents indicated they were not aware of the different ways to interact with the government digitally, providing local government agencies to better communicate the benefits of digital channels to citizens.

Singapore's findings were the highest among seven countries that participated in the survey, which polled more than 1,400 respondents in Australia, France, Germany, India, the United States and the United Kingdom. Just one-third of respondents in these countries, outside Singapore, believed it was easier to interact with governments than private-sector companies.

Some 70 percent of Singaporeans surveyed would use social media to contact a government official to resolve a problem. While India had almost the same percentage, at 69 percent, only 35 percent of respondents in Australia and 40 percent of respondents in the U.S. stated likewise.

Singapore also showed the highest tendency to tap digital services, the survey revealed, where the most commonly used were electronic alerts for recurring transactions such as renewal of passports and monthly bill payments.

Government must understand, address citizens' digital behavior
Digital citizens today are more empowered compared to previous generations, Peter Goh, partner of health and public service practice at Accenture Southeast Asia, observed in the report. They can start and control the dynamics of citizen-to-government relationships with a tweet, blog post or Facebook message sent to many people from their smartphones. Goh noted that governments are now working to reshape the way they deliver public service to meet their citizens' new demands.

He added that governments around the world faced a new reality of citizen expectation and must shift the way they deliver public services. The more governments understood citizens' needs, preferences and intents, the more relevant their digital programs would be, he surmised.

"The biggest challenge for government is not catching up with the private sector--it is giving digital citizens what they want while using digital channels to improve public value," Goh  said. "Digital government is fundamental to the next generation of government operations."