Lead consultant on new European benchmarking report says slow roll out of GOV.UK Verify has held back overall progress
Slow progress in rolling out the GOV.UK Verify authentication platform is keeping the UK back in the European pack for digital public services, according to one of the authors of a new benchmarking report on e-government from Capgemini Consulting.
The country comes in 24th of 33 in two prime rankings, for overall digital performance and user-centricity, just behind the EU averages and way back on the leads set by Malta, Estonia and Austria.
Individual scores for the UK place it on 77% for user-centricity, 55% for transparent government, 55% for cross-border mobility and 54% for key enablers.
The more positive results emerge in the UK ranking for types of services. It is doing well in providing them around citizen life events, coming second only to Norway with 70%; and for helping businesses to start up, with a similar score and coming fifth of the 33.
The report evaluates priority areas of the EU eGovernment Action Plan 2011-15, measuring progress by one or more indications such as availability and usability of services.
While there is no section focusing specifically on the UK, its position in the various rankings conveys a variable performance. Niels van der Linden, managing consultant and eGov benchmark lead at Capgemini, attributed this to the slow progress in making the GOV.UK Verify platform available for use in services.
Improvement against demand
“Like the rest of Europe, the UK has shown improvement over the last year when it comes to digital government services, but not at a rate that is keeping up with demand of its citizens,” van der Linden said.
Work on Verify began five years ago and the platform has only recently gone live for selected central government services. Van der Linden said this has slowed down the provision of services in which people can do everything online and prefill forms with data already known by government, but that the UK will gain a lot when it is fully implemented.
“The UK is still seen as a role model by the other countries in Europe though, when it comes to its approach and design principles for creating user centric services,” he added. “UK citizens enjoy greater user-centricity thanks to the ease and speed of which they are able to access services.
“This is particularly the case when it comes to offering ‘mobile-friendly’ services, where the UK finishes second. With the UK’s verification system running at full speed, we’d expect the UK to improve its position overall.”
Contrast with UN
The results on the UK rankings contrast with those of a report published recently by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which showed the UK top of an international e-government index. However, this emphasised this different factors such as efficiency savings through digital transformation and take-up of some digital services.
The Capgemini report says that overall European governments are making ground in digital maturity, with an average score of 73% in user-centricity, up by 3% on the previous year.
But they are missing the opportunity to take advantage of mobile technology with just one in four websites being mobile friendly, and transparency is still unsatisfactory with a ranking of just 51%.
The report also says there is a widening gap in performance from countries on either side of the “digital diagonal” across Europe, with those from the south-west to north-east doing much better than those on the other side of the line.
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