New benchmark report for European Commission shows shortcomings in electronic identification and transparency of service delivery
The UK is behind the leading European countries in its digitisation of public services, according to a new report by global business consultancy Capgemini.
The company’s new eGovernment Benchmark 2017 Report, produced for the European Commission and based on a survey of more than 10,000 government websites, places the UK in the pack with an overall digitisation score of 59%. This comes up short against the scores for the other leading European economies, with 76% for both Germany and Spain, 64% for Italy and 63% for France.
Overall, the report says that Malta, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Estonia are the top five performers in the field – although it does not provide precise total scores the key areas of readiness.
It says the UK has made progress in some important areas. It scores 82% in the user-centricity of its government websites, just above the EU average of 80%, and is a leader in the mobile friendliness of its sites, at 91% against the average of 54%. There has also been progress in improving the transparency of personal data, at 70% against an average of 53%.
But there are shortcomings in other important areas. The UK score for key enablers of digital services such as electronic identification and authentication sources is just 22% compared with an European average of 52%; and its transparency of service delivery scores 41% compared with 50%.
Niels Van Der Linden, principal consultant at Capgemini Consulting and lead for the eGov Benchmark, commented: “The UK is undoubtedly a leader in terms of digital innovation and the design of user-centric services, so it might seem surprising that this year’s eGov Benchmark shows it slightly falling behind the group of the biggest European economies (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) in terms of digitising its services.
“The UK has developed a number of very smart digital initiatives, and is now working hard to implement these solutions across its entire public sector.
“The challenge for the UK in climbing up the ranks is to increase the availability of key enablers such as electronic identification and authentication sources, where other countries have already made steps forward.”
Capgemini’s annual European benchmarks have traditionally placed the UK further down the league than some other rankings. The new findings contrast sharply with those published in August by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which placed the UK at the top of a global survey. The contrast reflects differences in the methodology used for the reports.
Europe-wide trends identified in the Capgemini report include progress on making services mobile-friendly, with 54% now achieving the ranking compared with 27% the year before.
There was also an improvement in user-centricity, with the average score reaching 85%. Capgemini says this indicates a mature level of online availability of services and interaction and feedback between authorities and the public.
But there has been slow progress in areas such as the use of electronic identification, possible in only 52% of services, and the prefilling of online forms with data already held by government, for which the figure is 47%.
The report adds that authorities need to catch up on disclosing information on the process of service delivery, their own responsibilities and performance, as well as personal data usage. Among the priorities are investment in digital enablers such as electronic identification and authentic sources to re-use data.
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