E-Government in Local Government in the Era of Web 2.0: Experiences of Alabama Municipalities

E-Government in Local Government in the Era of Web 2.0: Experiences of Alabama Municipalities

Hua Xu (Auburn University at Montgomery, USA) and Hugo Asencio (Auburn University at Montgomery, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0318-9.ch007
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Abstract

The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies in recent years has the potential of allowing governments to move beyond simply disseminating information and providing more online services to citizens to the point of engaging them in policy-making and administrative processes. This survey study attempts to find out the extent to which public officials in Alabama municipal governments utilize existing Web 2.0 technologies to engage citizens and to affect their attitudes toward e-government. The preliminary results indicate that although some progress has been made in terms of providing more online services to citizens, Alabama municipalities, particularly small ones, have yet to take advantage of the existing Web 2.0 technologies to make the transtition into e-governance. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of the research findings for advancing e-government in local governments and future research on e-governmnent.
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Introduction

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been extensively applied in local governments since the 1990s, when the Internet became widely available. In an attempt to enhance their services to the public and to increase transparency and citizen participation, governments at all levels have taken advantage of these new technologies to engage in what scholars now call “electronic-government,” or “e-government” for short.

The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies (social media) in recent years has the potential of allowing governments to move beyond simply disseminating information and providing more online services to citizens (“e-government”) to engaging them in policy making and administrative processes (“e-governance”). That is, the ability of public officials to engage citizens through the existing Web 2.0 technologies has the potential of improving not only the perceptions citizens have of their government (Berman, 1997) but also the quality of public service delivery in general since through their feedback citizens can play a more active role in the administrative process. Unfortunately, as some scholars point out, the implementation of Web 2.0 technologies for promoting transparency and participation in government settings has lagged (D’Agostino et al., 2011; Weber 2002); governments at all levels have yet to take full advantage of such technologies to engage citizens in a more interactive way (“e-governance”).

In an effort to contribute to the existing dialogue about the use of Web 2.0 technologies in local-government settings, this study attempts to find out the extent to which public officials in Alabama municipalities utilize existing Web 2.0 technologies to engage citizens. The purpose is to obtain an accurate picture of the status of e-government in Alabama, as well as to shed some light on the challenges public officials face when implementing e-government programs. The following section reviews the relevant literature. Next, discussions of the research design and a summary of the key findings are provided. The paper ends with a brief conclusion and some suggestions for future research.

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