Everyone seems to agree that the goal of electronic service delivery is achieving seamless client-centred service delivery in a variety of convenient, self-service ways. Canada’s federal Government Online (GOL) initiative is being led by the Treasury Board Secretariat. Its GOL timelines provide for the most frequently used government services to be accessible electronically by 2005. Government departments are well on the way to meeting these timelines and have mapped out how and when each of their services will be electronically available.
What most agree is not occurring at the same rate, or in some cases, at all, are initiatives that will integrate or cluster services around common client themes or life events. A client-centred approach involves thinking about a group of possibly related services from a client’s perspective, and making them available in a cohesive or clustered design, in ways that would make sense from a client perspective. Changing one’s address for all departments and programs on one website is one example. For the most part, this is not happening, mainly because it would require a degree of coordination across divisions and departments that have their own vertical accountability requirements, different privacy and other standards considerations, and an absence of any history of working together.
These challenges of providing seamless government services extend beyond a single level of government. But integration of ICT services between federal, provincial, Aboriginal and local levels of governments multiplies the non-technical difficulties of horizontal integration across federal government departments. While other governments have been improving horizontal service delivery on their own, integration between levels of government is still in its infancy.
So, while most people would agree that seamless service delivery is a laudable and reasonable goal, its achievement remains elusive for reasons that are largely unrelated to technology.
Questions to consider include: what are the barriers to making progress in achieving a high level of seamless service delivery? Are the barriers within the mandate of government officials to resolve? Do any of them require political-level interventions and solutions? Why?
The Manitoba government has unveiled a new educational initiative called CyberSchools Manitoba that will provide e-mail access and other online tools in a safe and secure manner to students, teachers and administrators throughout the province. Manitoba Education and Youth will implement an Internet-based, education-specific, secure e-mail system that will give users access to electronic mail and online calendars. Student access will be based on their grades, with the highest level of access going to those in Senior Four.
Internet banking on the rise, phone banking dropping: study
Internet banking continues to win over Canadians, according to an annual marketing research study conducted by NFO CFgroup. In 2002, one-quarter of Canadian adults surveyed made an Internet banking transaction in the month prior to the interview, up from 19 per cent in 2001. Overall, three in ten Canadians – 31 per cent – were signed up for online banking in 2002, up from 24 per cent in 2001 and 20 per cent in 2000. This growing usage and comfort with Internet technologies and transactions may drive demand for even more government services to be available online.
E-gov satisfaction leads the way
E-government outpaced off-line government and the private sector in a recent survey of customer satisfaction. ForeSee Results Inc. released a report Dec. 16 in a section of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index that showed e-government had an average score of 73.5 (on scale from 0 to 100), placing it ahead of the overall off-line government customer satisfaction average (70.2) and the overall private-sector ACSI score (73.1).