Websites preferred over govt bureaucrats

Internet and email is the most preferred and frequently used channel by Australians to interact with the government according to a report released today.

Internet and email were the most preferred and frequently used channels for Australians to interact with the government, according to a report on interacting with government released today, outweighing calling and face-to-face interviews.

Phone hanging off the hook

Lost Connection (Credit: Elaron, CC2.0 )

"Internet remains the most frequent channel last used to contact government with two in five (38 per cent) people doing so. This is followed by in person and telephone usage," said the report. Participants cited convenience and the nature of their queries as the major factor in driving this decision.

Person-to-person contact was a favoured method of contact if forms needed to be shown or signed.

The Roy Morgan Research report was commissioned by the Department of Finance and Deregulation, titled "Interacting with Government: Australians' use and satisfaction with e-government services — 2009". The report has been running annually since 2005.

It also revealed that older Australians aged from 55 to 64 preferred government internet services.

"While the internet continues to be the most frequently used channel for contacting government among those aged between 25 and 44, it is now also the most commonly used channel amongst those 55 to 64. Those aged between 18 and 24 most commonly use in person contact," it said.

Whilst the report said that 87 per cent of participants were satisfied with government website services, only 35 per cent considered the services "excellent".

"While very few people rate any of the quality measures as poor or very poor there has been no improvement in the likelihood of government websites being rated as "excellent" for any of the attributes tracked in this study," it said after collating responses regarding how well the websites were perceived as up to date (72 per cent), well designed with easy to access information (83 per cent) and trustworthy (85 per cent).

There was a general consensus among participants in the study that the government was "expected to meet or exceed the service standards of the private sector".

According to the report appendix, the research was conducted with 3,669 people through phone interviews and focus groups.

"Five years ago, when the government commenced researching the different ways Australians interacted with government, contact was overwhelmingly in person," Minister of Finance and Deregulation Lindsay Tanner said in an announcement today.

"This major shift shows how important it is for the Government to keep pace with technological change and evolve the delivery of services to meet the demands of citizens."

This has come after an advisory report was released yesterday suggesting that Australia's public sector's IT delivery needed to be overhauled. The government has also been trying to adopt a net savvy image with its gov 2.0 scheme implemented in 2009 which was criticised in February as lacking "purpose and aim".