The UK remains well behind the leaders in Europe’s e-government league, according to the latest benchmarking exercise by global consultancy Capgemini.
It has given Britain an overall score 61% against ratings above 80% for the leading pack of Estonia, Austria, Latvia, Malta and Lithuania.
The project involved an examination of more than 10,000 government websites across 36 European countries, carried out by Capgemini with its subsidiary Sogeti and consortium partners IDC and Politecnico di Milano.
The report on the exercise shows the UK in the middle group with an overall rating just below the average of 65%, lagging behind more countries than it leads.
Niels van der Linden, Capgemini Invent’s project lead for the eGovernment Benchmark, said the UK has made good progress overall in digitising public services, being one of 10 countries to show growth of more than 10% compared with the previous benchmarking two years ago.
It recorded increases of 86% for online availability, 81% for the transparency of its public organisations, 88% for the mobile friendliness of its government websites, and 92% – the top mark for the category – for online services for foreign businesses wanting to start in the UK.
But its overall rating has been affected by its score of just 31% for the key enablers of e-identity, e-documents, digital mail and authentication sources. This compared with scores of over 90% for the leaders, and if it had performed in line with the EU average it would have been in the top quadrant.
Need for transparency
“Besides the key enablers, another area to improve on is transparency of service delivery, which refers to informing the user of a service about duration of the process, deadlines and which step the user is at,” van der Linden said. “This year, however, this indicator already increased with six percentage points to 47%.
Capgemini said the overall results of the benchmarking show that European governments have been improving the delivery of online services and encouraging them to interact through the channels more frequently. Overall performance has risen to an average rating of 65% and Malta won the top rating of 96%.
But the exercise also identified areas for improvement, such as in the description of service processes for citizen services – which are not as good as for business services – and the scope to make more use of digital postboxes.
Van der Linden said: “The 2019 results are testimony to European governments not settling for fairly good services, but continuously striving to improve their online service delivery. There is a need to further develop personalized and transparent user experiences though.
“A next step for Europe will be to establish fully borderless services with trusted authentication. This will enable citizens and businesses to apply for online services in another country without barriers, as if they were country nationals.”
The company’s EU account executive Dinand Tinholt added that new channels powered by AI, such as chatboxes and chatbots, should provide for further improvements.
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