E-Government and Accountability in EU Local Governments

E-Government and Accountability in EU Local Governments

Lourdes Torres (University of Zaragoza, Spain), Vicente Pina (University of Zaragoza, Spain), Basilio Acerete (University of Zaragoza, Spain) and Sonia Royo (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-282-4.ch010
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Abstract

This work tries to assess to what extent e-government enables transparency, openness and, hence, accountability in public administrations. For this purpose, local European Union (EU) administrations are analysed, encompassing all the different types of public administration styles of Western countries. Although almost all governments have opened a Web site and reports from multilateral organizations highlight the benefits of e-government initiatives for transforming the relationship between administration and citizens; the results of our analyses show that these benefits are far from being achieved because the e-government projects are still in their early stages. Even though the capacity of the Internet for the dissemination of information improves accountability and makes benchmarking easier, our research results also show that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) do not promote financial accountability beyond legal requirements. In conclusion, ICTs have not had a dramatic impact on public accountability in practice, even in countries that are at the forefront of digital technologies.
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Introduction

The adoption of Web-based technologies has become a common element of the public administration modernization programmes of Western democracies, as well as a global trend in public administrations. The diffusion of Information and Communication Technology innovations among public administrations has been triggered off by the dramatic development of e-commerce which has encouraged citizens to demand more customized services. Citizens -who are the e-commerce users- demand the same level of responsiveness and service from their governments as they are receiving from the private sector (Edmiston, 2003). So, in the same way as in the 1990s there was global trend for undertaking public sector reforms based on the New Public Management (NPM) postulates, nowadays globalization is also creating an offer of interactive initiatives and demands in national public administrations which are putting public bureaucracies worldwide under pressure to follow the way in which innovator governments relate to citizens regardless of their national traditions and public administration style. Notwithstanding, NPM reforms that originated in Anglo-American countries were not always regarded as a desirable model to emulate in European Continental countries. The NPM doctrine was adapted, instead of adopted, in European Union (EU) countries with non Anglo-American public administration styles, and its implementation underwent multiple mutations and variations across countries (Hood, 1995; Pollitt and Bouckaer, 2000; and Torres, 2004).

The interaction capability of the Internet has been deemed by governments as a trouble-free way of: improving responsiveness to citizens, generating greater public trust in governments and making governance function better than it currently does (Markoff, 2000). According to Clift (2003), e-government interactivity is an adequate tool for involving stakeholders, improving government decisions, increasing citizen trust in government, enhancing government accountability1 and transparency and accommodating the public will in the information age. More information delivered in a more timely fashion to citizens is expected to increase the transparency of government and to empower citizens to monitor government performance more closely. Today, governments worldwide recognise ICTs as powerful tools for enhancing citizen engagement in public policy-making and as a way of increasing citizen trust in governments (La Porte et al., 2002).

E-government may refer to narrower or broader areas. The narrow approach is simply the translation of private sector e-commerce experiences to the public sector. The broader approach of e-government extends to key issues of governance such as the online engagement of stakeholders in the process of shaping, debating and implementing public policies. Although a growing number of e-government studies are emerging in this field, previous research has not analyzed the EU local government innovation towards digital government from a comparative perspective. Benchmarking studies of e-government are undertaken regularly by the Center for the Business of Government, the Economist Intelligence Unit, Accenture, Cap Gemini, the United Nations and the American Society for Public Administration. Unfortunately, most of this literature focuses on central and federal governments in terms of examining trends in digital government. These are frequently little more than simplistic ‘bean-counting’ exercises that measure the number of services provided online. According to Schedler and Schmidt (2004), there are two kinds of studies: those which have been published by governments or by consultancy firms such as US Executive Office, UK Cabinet Office, Andersen, Accenture; Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (a large majority of the publications) and those carried out by academics. The former have a vested interest in the development of e-government, so, a priori, the results of the latter should be more objective.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Citizen Dialogue: Implementation of Information and Communication Technologies as a means of improving communication with citizens and stimulating participation in political and civic processes.

Financial Accountability: Means of keeping citizens informed about the city’s financial position, financial performance, service effort and accomplishment.

Service Maturity: Completeness with which local services are delivered through Web sites, that is to say, the use of the Internet to extend, diversify and, where appropriate, improve local services provided to citizens.

E-Government: The use of Information and Communication Technologies, and particularly the Internet, to provide information and deliver services to citizens in a more convenient, simple and accessible way, with the aim of facilitating interactions with public administrations and increasing transparency in public sector accountability and, hence, enhancing citizen trust in public institutions.

Accountability: Relationship between an actor and a forum, in which the actor has an obligation to explain and justify his or her conduct, the forum can pose questions and pass judgment, and the actor may face consequences.

Web Site Maturity: Aspects that provide benefits for citizens when visiting Web sites, for example content arranged according to life events/business episodes or use of digital signatures for transactions, and the use of the web site for some kind of citizen consultation.

Political Dimension: Use of the Internet for bringing the government’s political agenda closer to citizens and the implementation of bias-free policies for the dissemination of information.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Foreword
G. David Garson
Preface
Christopher G. Reddick
Acknowledgment
Christopher G. Reddick
Chapter 1
Vishanth Weerakkody, Gurjit Dhillon
Most public services are overly complex, and separate where citizens have no choice in the service that they receive. All too often, Information and... Sample PDF
Moving from E-Government to T-Government: A Study of Process Reengineering Challenges in a UK Local Authority Context
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Chapter 2
Tino Schuppan
This chapter addresses the link between e-government, organizational networks related to it, and the possibilities for structural reform of... Sample PDF
Local Level Structural Change and E Government in Germany
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Chapter 3
Stephen King
This chapter describes a journey through e-enabled local public services. We start with the familiar local government Web site and contact centre... Sample PDF
Innovation and Citizen-Centric Local E-Government
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Chapter 4
Krassimira Paskaleva-Shapira
This chapter shares experience on aspects related to the methodology and modeling of a framework of City E-Governance Readiness. We discuss Europe’s... Sample PDF
Assessing Local Readiness for City E-Governance in Europe
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Chapter 5
Mark Deakin
The chapter examines the IntelCities Community of Practice (CoP) supporting the development of the organization’s e-Learning platform, knowledge... Sample PDF
The IntelCities Community of Practice: The eGov Services Model for Socially Inclusive and Participatory Urban Regeneration Programs
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Chapter 6
Sarah Cotterill
In the United Kingdom and throughout the world there is increasing emphasis on public sector organizations working together in local partnerships.... Sample PDF
Local E-Government Partnerships
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Chapter 7
Ian McLoughlin
In the United Kingdom, major investments have been made in e-government in order to modernize government and improve the efficiency and quality of... Sample PDF
Towards Digital Governance in UK Local Public Services?
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Chapter 8
Bryan Reece, Kim Andreasson
There has been considerable attention given to the issue of unrepresentative access; however, research to date has focused on individual level... Sample PDF
Institutional E-Government Development
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Chapter 9
Tina Jukic, Mateja Kunstelj, Mitja Decman, Mirko Vintar
In this chapter, 3 main aspects of municipal e-government in Slovenia are investigated thoroughly: supply, demand, and the view of municipal... Sample PDF
E-Government in Slovene Municipalities: Analysing Supply, Demand and its Effects
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Chapter 10
Lourdes Torres, Vicente Pina, Basilio Acerete, Sonia Royo
This work tries to assess to what extent e-government enables transparency, openness and, hence, accountability in public administrations. For this... Sample PDF
E-Government and Accountability in EU Local Governments
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Chapter 11
Stephen K. Aikins
A Comparative Study of Municipal Adoption of Internet-Based Citizen Participation Sample PDF
A Comparative Study of Municipal Adoption of Internet-Based Citizen Participation
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Chapter 12
Janita Stuart, Val Hooper
The uptake of Internet voting for local government elections is still in its infancy worldwide. While it holds many potential benefits, there are... Sample PDF
Sociological Factors Influencing Internet Voting
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Chapter 13
Sonja Knapp, Yun Chen, Andy Hamilton, Volker Coors
Urban Planning is a multi-disciplinary process. Social-economic, environmental and natural resources issues need to be considered to ensure urban... Sample PDF
An ePlanning Case Study in Stuttgart Using OPPA 3D
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Chapter 14
Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Maria Manta Conroy
Municipalities often struggle to provide citizen participation opportunities that are informative and engaging. E-government tools hold the... Sample PDF
Local Government Experiences with ICT for Participation
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Chapter 15
Michael J. Jensen
This chapter analyzes the “impact” of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on local government officials’ policy decision-making.... Sample PDF
Electronic Democracy and Citizen Influence in Government
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Chapter 16
Yu-Che Chen, Ashley Dorsey
To meet the current and future senior citizens’ demand for e-government, local governments will need to have a better understanding of their needs.... Sample PDF
E-Government for Current and Future Senior Citizens
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Chapter 17
Don-yun Chen, Tong-yi Huang, Naiyi Hsiao, Tze-Luen Lin, Chung-Pin Lee
This chapter introduces a case of e-deliberation in Taiwan. Democratic deepening can be achieved by the application of information and communication... Sample PDF
Experimental E-Deliberation in Taiwan: A Comparison of Online and Face-to-Face Citizens' Conferences in Beitou, Taipei
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Chapter 18
Greg Streib, Ignacio Navarro
The development of e-government has attracted considerable scholarly interest in recent years, but relatively little has been written about the... Sample PDF
City Managers and E-Government Development: Assessing Technology Literacy and Leadership Needs
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Chapter 19
Zhenyu Huang
This chapter presents a comprehensive analysis of the 3,099 U.S. counties’ adoption and diffusion of e-government and the functions provided by... Sample PDF
U.S. Counties' Efforts and Results: An Empirical Research on Local Adoption and Diffusion of E-Government
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Chapter 20
Suzanne J. Piotrowski, Erin L. Borry
Government websites are quickly becoming the first point of contact for citizens and visitors seeking information. Local government websites’... Sample PDF
Transparency and Local Government Websites
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Chapter 21
Marc Holzer, Aroon Manoharan
The chapter is based on the results of an international survey of municipal Web portals conducted through a collaboration between the E-Governance... Sample PDF
E-Governance and Quality of Life: Associating Municipal E-Governance with Quality of Life Worldwide
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Chapter 22
Mete Yildiz
This chapter presents an analysis of local e-government adoption and implementation in Turkey. To this end, academic articles, various laws, and... Sample PDF
An Overview of Local E-Government Adoption and Implementation in Turkey
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Chapter 23
Bekir Parlak, Zahid Sobaci
This chapter aims to evaluate the e-government practices in metropolitan municipalities in Turkey by determining functionality levels of... Sample PDF
The Functionality of Website-Based Services of Metropolitan Municipalities in Turkey
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Chapter 24
Patrizia Lombardi, Ian Cooper, Krassimira Paskaleva-Shapira, Mark Deakin
Harnessing ICTs effectively is one of the main vehicles for achieving the EU’s 2010 strategy to become the most competitive digital knowledge-based... Sample PDF
The Challenge of Designing User-Centric E-Services: European Dimensions
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Chapter 25
Raoul J. Freeman
This chapter reviews various strategic frameworks for e-government which include goals and objectives. Among typical goals are the following... Sample PDF
Goals Measurement and Evaluation of E-Gov Projects
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Chapter 26
Jussi S. Jauhiainen, Tommi Inkinen
Finland is among the leading information societies. The national information society strategy aims to make the information society accessible by... Sample PDF
E-Governance and the Information Society in Periphery
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Chapter 27
Sean M. Bossinger
Free, libre, or open source software (FLOSS) offers the promise of cost-free, modifiable, high-quality software, for a multitude of tasks (e.g.... Sample PDF
Open Source Software Use in Local Governments
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Chapter 28
Mark Cassell
This chapter examines empirically, the intended and unintended consequences that occur when a local government chooses to migrate away from a... Sample PDF
When Local Governments Choose Open Source Technology
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Chapter 29
The Wireless City  (pages 554-568)
Sukumar Ganapati, Christian F. Schoepp
In this chapter, we explore the evolution of wireless broadband networks in cities. We examine the technological alternatives for city-wide... Sample PDF
The Wireless City
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Chapter 30
Paul M.A. Baker, Avonne Bell, Nathan W. Moon
This chapter presents the results of an examination of the current state of U.S. municipal wireless network design and policies with regards to... Sample PDF
Accessibility Issues in Municipal Wireless Networks
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Chapter 31
Roland J. Cole, Isabel A. Cole, Jennifer A. Kurtz
The key reason for including this chapter in this book is that the development of more advanced forms of e-government requires that residences have... Sample PDF
Municipal Efforts to Promote Residential Broadband
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Chapter 32
Jenni Viitanen, Richard Kingston
This chapter will discuss the implications of the network society paradigm for e-government and the role of ICTs in the regeneration of urban... Sample PDF
The Role of Public Participation GIS in Local Service Delivery
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Chapter 33
Terry Murphy
Geographical Information System (GIS) technology applications for use in the field of economic development are relatively new. Local economic... Sample PDF
GIS: Changing the Economic Development World
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Chapter 34
Paul T. Jaeger
Many residents and local communities rely on public libraries for access to and training to use e-government. Many local governments direct citizens... Sample PDF
Public Libraries and Local E-Government
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Chapter 35
Muhammad Mustafa Kamal, M. Themistocleous
Literature indicates that Local Government Authorities (LGAs) have problems in meeting citizens’ demands. This may be attributed to the limitations... Sample PDF
Investigating Enterprise Application Integration Adoption in the Local Government Authorities
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Chapter 36
Jeffrey Roy
This chapter will compare the emergence of e-government in Denmark and Canada with a particular emphasis on the municipal and inter-governmental... Sample PDF
Enterprise Application Integration; Healthcare Organizations; Information Technology ; Large Organizations; Local Government Authorities
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Chapter 37
Genie N.L. Stowers
This case describes the case of a small California city, San Carlos, a continued early adopter in the e-government areas. The chapter asks the... Sample PDF
The Little City That Could: The Case of San Carlos, California
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Chapter 38
Howard A. Frank
ActiveStrategy’s performance management application deploys the widely utilized Balanced Scorecard framework in a dashboard platform designed to... Sample PDF
Implementing ActiveStrategy in Miami-Dade County
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Chapter 39
Greta Nasi
The purpose of this chapter is to assess the current status and level of technology in providing on line services among larger Italian... Sample PDF
E-Government and Local Service Delivery: The Case of Italian Local Governments
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Chapter 40
Andreas Ask, Mathias Hatakka, Åke Grönlund
This chapter discusses practices, opportunities, and challenges in local e-government project management by means of a case study involving... Sample PDF
The Örebro City Citizen-Oriented E-Government Strategy
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Chapter 41
Ik Jae Chung
As a nationwide e-government project in South Korea, the Information Network Village project was launched in 2001. It was designed to increase... Sample PDF
Toward E-Government Sustainability: The Information Network Village Project in South Korea
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Chapter 42
Samiaji Sarosa, Jenjang Sri Lestari
This chapter examined the state of Jogjakarta’s local governments Web sites (i.e, Bantul, Sleman, Kulon Progo, City of Jogjakarta and The Special... Sample PDF
The Level and Impact of Web Based E-Government Adoption: The Case of Jogjakarta's Local Governments
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Chapter 43
Maniam Kaliannan, Hazman Shah Abdullah, Murali Raman
Despite the many quarrels and complaints about the quality of local government in Malaysia, it continues to be an important part of the overall... Sample PDF
Local E-Government in Malaysia: An Empirical Investigation
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Chapter 44
Sam Lubbe, Shawren Singh
This chapter explores the issues of the interface between Information Systems (IS) and society. We investigate IS and users of these systems at a... Sample PDF
From Conception to Demise: Implications for Users of Information Systems in Changing a Local Parastatal Educational Institution in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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Chapter 45
José Rodrigues Filho, João Rodrigues dos Santos Junior
E-government has the potential to enhance democracy and transparency, increasing opportunities for citizen interaction. Literature has given many... Sample PDF
Local E-Government in Brazil: Poor Interaction and Local Politics as Usual
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Chapter 46
R. K. Mitra, M. P. Gupta, G. P. Sahu
While Information Technology (IT) is being embraced by various wings of the government, the police in India have however, been slow to adopt IT. The... Sample PDF
Indian Police E-Government System: A Study of Provincial Police
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Chapter 47
Arla Juntunen
There are still only few studies of the cooperation and collaboration of the governmental agencies and local authorities. This chapter presents a... Sample PDF
Joint Service Development with the Local Authorities
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About the Contributors