E-Government Development at the Local Level in Australia Using a Framework for Connected E-Government

E-Government Development at the Local Level in Australia Using a Framework for Connected E-Government

Qiuyan Fan (University of Western Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch265
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Introduction

Dawes (2008, p. 86) defines e-government as ‘the use of information and communication technologies to support public services, government administration, democratic processes and relationships among citizens, civil society, the private sector and the state.’ In the simplest of terms, e-government refers to electronic government or the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in the management and delivery of public information and services at all levels of government agencies (Edmiston, 2003). E-government projects can potentially enhance information sharing, aggregation and reuse, and reducing the costs of back-end office operations.

The UN e-government survey states ‘ governments around the world are moving forward in e-government development in an effort to enhance public information and service delivery and to improve the efficiency and productivity of government processes and systems.’ (United Nations, 2008, p. 23). One of the emerging changes in structures of governance is the growth of connected governance structures. A connected government model provides an efficient and effective way of conducting government business transactions with citizens and businesses and within governments themselves. For the purposes of this study, the term ‘connected e-government’ means thinking and acting in ways that tie the levels, units, and agencies of government together for common purposes. These purposes include service to citizens, business and other sectors and support for government operations.

The Australian Commonwealth Government established a new service agenda to adopt a whole of government approach to realising responsive government in its 2006 e-government strategy (AGIMO, 2006). To move forward towards the vision of a connected and responsive government, local government plays a crucial role in key areas of service provision of particular importance to local communities. In fact, community participation at the local level is often higher than at a national level in Australia (Shackleton, Fisher, & Dawson, 2006).

The study reviews e-government development at the local level in Australia and proposes a connected e-government model that aims to increase the quality of government services and improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of local government operations. This research attempts to provide a framework for understanding how connected e-government at the local level can help achieve this end.

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Background

While Australian e-government initiatives have received longstanding international recognition (United Nations, 2008), Australian local government lags behind in terms of showing signs of preparedness to move into the next stage of service provision in comparison with the UK local government initiatives in e-government (Mckeown, Teicher, & Dow, 2004). As Sarikas and Weerakkody pointed out, ‘many local governments are lagging behind the national expectations for e-government implementation due to various political, organisational and technical challenges’ (Sarikas & Weerakkody, 2007, p. 155).

As the international research suggests, 80% of citizen to government transactions take place with local, not central government (Socitim & I&DeA, 2002). However, the government websites at the local level are typically not as well developed as those at the federal level. Edmiston (2003) conducts two surveys of 2600 municipal and county governments and finds that although the vast majority of local governments have established Web sites, very little had been done to integrate e-government into their daily affairs because of marketing, privacy and funding barriers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Local Governments in Australia (also known as local councils): Established by state and territory governments to handle local community needs.

E-Government: Electronic government or the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in the management and delivery of public information and services at all levels of government agencies.

Connected E-Government: Thinking and acting in ways that tie the levels, units, and agencies of government together for common purposes including service to citizens, business and other sectors and support for government operations.

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