E-Service Provision by New Zealand Local Government

E-Service Provision by New Zealand Local Government

J. Paynter
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch109
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Historically, information and services can only be obtained through narrow, one to one, phones, and agency-specific shop fronts (Caffrey, 1998). Information technology, especially the Internet, opens possibilities of using methods to distribute information and deliver services on a much grander scale. The Internet provides a foundation for a variety of communications media. The Web is one of the most important media built upon the Internet. It can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world by means of computers and electronic devices; it is possible to elicit more information, establish platforms for online payment, online consultation and e-voting. Security concerns can be overcome by data-authentication technologies. It can deliver government services and encourage greater democracy and engagement from citizens. Governments around the world are exploring the use of Web-based information technology (Grönlund, 2002). Attention has focused on the design and delivery of portals as a major component of government electronic service infrastructures. The N.Z. government portal site (http://www.govt.nz/en/home/) or the Local Government Online Ltd (LGOL) Web site, (www.localgovt.co.nz/AboutCouncils/Councils/ByRegion/) are examples. Since the mid-1990s governments have been tapping the potential of the Internet to improve and governance and service provision. “In 2001, it was estimated that globally there were well over 50,000 official government Web sites with more coming online daily. In 1996 less than 50 official government homepages could be found on the world-wide-Web” (Ronaghan, 2002). Local governments are faced with growing demands of delivering information and services more efficiently and effectively and at low cost. Along with the rapid growth of technological developments, people demand high quality services that reflect their lifestyles and are accessible after normal office hours from home or work. Thus, the goals of delivering electronic government services are to simplify procedures and documentation; eliminate interactions that fail to yield outcomes; extend contact opportunities (i.e., access) beyond office hours and improve relationships with the public (Grönlund, 2002). Having an effective Web presence is critical to the success of local governments moving to adopt new technologies. Of equal importance is the evaluation of Web sites using different manual and automated methodologies and tools. In this study an evaluation of local authority Web sites was conducted to gain a practical understanding of the impact of the Internet on local governments in New Zealand using a tailor-made model specific to local governments. Issues studied focused on the information and services provided by the local authority Web sites. What is more important is whether the local government operations can or are able to support the expectations for speed, service, convenience, and delivery that the Web creates. Through identification of best practice Web sites and a set of evaluation methods and tools, this paper will provide a set of design guidelines to local authorities that would benefit and better meet the needs of their local communities.

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