The latest annual e-government benchmarking report for the European Commission, which is carried out by Capgemini, largely delivers positive results for the EU28+, in that the gap between high performing member states and those further down the ranks is closing.
However, the report also highlights that the UK has failed to improve on its “unexploited eGov” status from last year, which means that whilst lots of people continue to use online government services, those services fail to be fully digitised at the front and back-end.
The report itself is long and detailed, so it’s worth taking a read in full. However, I will aim to pull together some of the key highlights. Let’s start with the UK before progressing onto the broader EU findings.
The chart below provides a ‘state of play’ for the EU28+, where it labels member states as one of the following:
Non-consolidated eGovernment: this scenario combines lower levels of Digitisation with lower levels of Penetration.
Unexploited eGovernment: this scenario combines lower levels of Digitisation combined with higher levels of Penetration.
Expandable eGovernment: this scenario combines higher levels of Digitisation with lower levels of Penetration.
Fruitful eGovernment: this scenario combines high levels of both Digitisation and Penetration.
The key thing to know is that penetration describes the extent to which the online channel is used for government services, while digitisation reflects the extent to which the back- and front offices of the Public administration are digitised.
It’s noteworthy that the UK is a bit of an outlier as one of the countries with high levels of penetration, but lower levels of digitisation. Most other member states with higher levels of penetration appear to be more mature in their digitisation efforts.
The broader picture
More broadly, the report notes that the European front-runners in eGovernment are Malta, Estonia and Austria. These countries score highest in terms of overall maturity. Latvia, Lithuania and Finland are close behind.
The scoring is based on a number of key metrics and are broken down as follows:
The User centricity top-level benchmark scores highest, with 85% for the EU28+ average. The User centricity benchmark is made up of the Online availability, Usability and Mobile friendliness indicators. There is most room for improvement for Mobile friendliness, which scores 68% for the EU28+ average.
The top-level Transparency benchmark scores 62% for the EU28+ average, with a low score on the Service delivery indicator (55%) and a higher score on the Public organisations indicator (72%).
The Cross-border mobility top-level benchmark scores lowest of the four top-level benchmarks (53% for the EU28+ average). The scores of citizen cross-border mobility are considerably lower than for businesses, with 48% vs 63%.
The Key enablers Top-level benchmark stands at 58% (EU28+ average). The eID and Authentic sources indicators score 54% and 55%, the eDocument and Digital Post indicators score a higher (65% and 63%).
However, looking at the findings in more detail, the report notes that more often than not it’s the business services that are clearly defined and useable, whilst citizens need more information on duration, response deadlines and progress when online and planning for their interactions with government.
It also notes that users accessing eGovernment services through mobile devices encounter barriers in one out of three websites. Equally, pre-filling forms with information that is already known by the authorities is done in a small majority of the services available and the authors of the report state that there is “potential to save more time of users if more information is pre-filled”.
But the main takeaway from the latest benchmarking findings is that the EU28+ are progressing together and the gap between the worst performing and the best performing member states is closing, which will come as well received news to the European Commission. It states:
It is important for Europe to advance as a whole, by granting every European similar levels of digital experiences and rights while enabling efficient and effective investments in eGovernment, which forms the essence of a Digital Single Market.
In the previous period of measuring eGovernment performance (2012- 2015), the gap between eGovernment leaders and those countries further behind had grown to 53 percentage points (p.p.). It is very positive to see that the recent evaluations reveal this gap has decreased to 42 p.p., indicating that the average level of eGovernment performance in Europe is rising, with those countries lagging behind raising their game substantially.