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E-government (short for electronic government) is the use of technology, such as computers and the internet, to provide public services to citizens and other persons in a country or region.

E-government is also known as e-gov, electronic government, internet governance, digital government, online government, or connected government.

Examples of e-government services can include using the internet for applying for government issued identification documents (such as a birth certificate), updating government records (for example, changing a residential address), or completing a tax return.

E-government should enable anyone visiting a city website to communicate and interact with city employees via the Internet with graphical user interfaces (GUI), instant-messaging (IM), learn about government issues through audio/video presentations, and in any way more sophisticated than a simple email letter to the address provided at the site

Terminology and Concepts

Transformational Governance

Transformational government or also transformational e-government is the use of computer-based information and communications technologies (ICT) to change the way governments work. The term is commonly used to describe a government reform strategy which attempts to radically change the way people understand government, especially those working within government. For example, it is often associated with a whole-of-government viewpoint, which tries to foster cross-department collaboration and provide one-stop-shop convenience in the delivery of services to citizens.

Government 2.0

Government 2.0 or Gov 2.0 refers to government policies that aim to harness collaborative technologies and interactive internet tools to create an open-source computing platform in which government, citizens, and innovative companies can improve transparency and efficiency.

Gov 2.0 combines interactive Web 2.0 fundamentals with e-government and increases citizen participation by using open-source platforms, which allow development of innovative apps, websites, and widgets. The government's role is to provide open data, web services, and platforms as an infrastructure.


Whilst e-government has traditionally been understood as being centered around the operations of government, e-governance is understood to extend the scope by including citizen engagement and participation in governance. E-governance uses ICT as a tool to achieve better governance.

E-governance focuses on:

  • The use of information and communication technologies (ICT), and particularly the internet, as a tool to achieve better government.[3]
  • The use of information and communication technologies in all facets of the operations of a government organization. [4]
  • The continuous optimization of service delivery, constituency participation, and governance by transforming internal and external relationships through technology, the Internet and new media.[5]

Delivery models

The primary delivery models of e-government can be divided into:

  • Government-to-citizen or government-to-consumer (G2C) approaches. Such as setting up websites where citizens can download forms or access government information.
  • The G2C model applies the business concept and strategy of customer relationship management (CRM). By managing a government's "customer" (citizen) relationship, the business (government) can provide the products and services required to fulfill the needs of the customer (citizen).
  • Government-to-business (G2B)
  • Government-to-government (G2G)
  • Government-to-employees (G2E)

Within each of these interaction domains, four kinds of activities take place: [7]

  • publishing information on the internet, e.g.: regulatory services, general holidays, public hearing schedules, issue briefs, notifications, etc.
  • two-way communications between a government agency and the citizen, a business, or another government agency. In this model, users can engage in dialogue with agencies and post problems, comments, or requests to the agency.
  • conducting transactions, e.g.: lodging tax returns, applying for services and grants.
  • governance, e.g.: To enable the citizen transition from passive information access to active citizen participation by:

  • Informing the citizen

  • Representing the citizen
  • Encouraging voting
  • Consulting citizens

Advantages and Disadvantages


The ultimate goal of the e-government is to be able to offer an increased portfolio of public services to citizens in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

E-government allows for government transparency. Government transparency is important because it allows the public to be informed about what the government is working on as well as the policies they are trying to implement.

Simple tasks may be easier to perform through electronic government access. Many changes to a citizen's government records, such as marital status or address changes can be a long process and take a lot of paperwork for citizens. E-government allows these tasks to be performed efficiently with more convenience to individuals.

E-government is an easy way for the public to be more involved in political campaigns. It can increase voter awareness, which could lead to an increase in citizen participation in elections.

It is convenient and cost-effective for businesses, and the public benefits by providing easy access to the most current information available without having to spend time, energy and money to access it.

E-government helps simplify processes and makes government information more easily accessible for public sector agencies and citizens.

The anticipated benefits of e-government include efficiency, improved services, better accessibility of public services, sustainable community development and more transparency and accountability.


One goal of some e-government initiatives is greater citizen participation. Through Web 2.0 interactive features, people from all over the country can provide input to politicians or public servants and make their voices heard. Blogging and interactive surveys allow politicians or public servants to see the views of the people on any issue. Chat rooms can place citizens in real-time contact with elected officials or their office staff or provide them with the means to interact directly with public servants, allowing voters to have a direct impact and influence in their government. These technologies can create a more transparent government, allowing voters to immediately see how and why their representatives in the capital are voting the way they are. This helps voters decide whom to vote for in the future or how to help the public servants become more productive.

A government could theoretically move more towards a democracy more responsive to citizen's wishes with the proper application of e-government. Government transparency provides an insight to the public on how decisions are made and can help hold elected officials or public servants accountable for their actions.[8]

Environmental bonuses

Proponents of e-government argue that online government services would lessen the need for hard copy paper forms.[9] Due to recent pressures from environmentalist groups, the media, and the public, some governments and organizations have turned to the internet to reduce paper use. For example the United States of America's government utilizes the website to provide "internal government forms for federal employees" and thus "produce significant savings in paper. [10]

Applying for government services online also reduces the need for citizens to drive to a government office, reducing congestion on roads.

Speed, efficiency, and convenience

E-government allows citizens to interact with computers to achieve objectives at any time or location. It eliminates the necessity for physical travel to meet government agents.

Most e-government services are available to citizens with internet access 24 hours a day and seven days a week, in contrast to brick and mortar government offices, which tend to be only open during business hours.

Improved accounting and record-keeping can be noted through computerization. Information and forms can be easily accessed by citizens, which may enable quicker processing time for applications and to find information.

On the administrative side, access to help find or retrieve files and linked information can now be stored in electronic databases versus hard copies (paper copies) stored in various locations.

Individuals with disabilities or conditions that affect their mobility do not have to travel to a physical location in order to interact with government services. [11]

Public approval

Recent trials of e-government have been met with acceptance and eagerness from the public.[12]


The main disadvantage concerning e-government is the existence of a digital divide and digital inequalities that prevent people from accessing the full benefits of e-government. When presented as the only option to access an essential government service, those who do not have access a computer and the internet, or do not have adequate knowledge on how to use them suffer.[14]

Other disadvantages include the reliability of information on the web and issues that could influence and bias public opinions. There are many considerations and potential implications of implementing and designing e-government, including disintermediation of the government and its citizens, digital self-determination of citizens in a global internet network, impacts on economic, social, and political factors, vulnerability to cyber attacks, and disturbances to the status quo in these areas.[15]

The political nature of public sector forms are also cited as disadvantages to e-government systems. [16]


E-government systems may be expensive to design and implement.

Although "a prodigious amount of money has been spent "on the development and implementation of e-government, some say it has yielded only a mediocre result.[17] The outcomes and effects of trial Internet-based government services are often difficult to gauge or users find them unsatisfactory.[18] According to Gartner, Worldwide IT spending is estimated to total \$3.6 trillion in 2011 which is 5.1% increase from the year 2010 (\$3.4 trillion). [19]


Because E-government is in the early stages of development in many countries and jurisdictions, it is hard to be applied to forms of government that have been institutionalized. Age-old bureaucratic practices being delivered in new mediums or using new technologies can lead to problems of miscommunication.[20]

False sense of transparency and accountability

Opponents of e-government argue that online governmental transparency is dubious because it is maintained by the governments themselves. Information can be added or removed from the public eye. To this day, very few organizations monitor and provide accountability for these modifications. Those that do so, like the United States’ OMBWatch and Government Accountability Project, are often nonprofit volunteers.[21] Even the governments themselves do not always keep track of the information they insert and delete.[22]


Increased electronic contact and data exchange between government and its citizens goes both ways. Once e-government technologies become more sophisticated, citizens will be likely be encouraged to interact electronically with the government for more transactions, as e-services are much less costly than brick and mortar service offices (physical buildings) staffed by civil servants. This could potentially lead to a decrease in privacy for civilians as the government obtains more and more information about their activities. Without safeguards, government agencies might share information on citizens. In a worst-case scenario, with so much information being passed electronically between government and civilians, a totalitarian-like system could develop. When the government has easy access to countless information on its citizens, personal privacy is lost.[23]


An e-government website that provides government services often does not offer the "potential to reach many users including those who live in remote areas [without Internet access], are homebound, have low literacy levels, exist on poverty line incomes.[24] Homeless people, people in poverty and elderly people may not have access.


Trust in e-governance is very highly dependent on its performance and execution, which can be measured through the effectiveness of current actions. This is much riskier and prone to fluctuation than a system of trust that is based on reputation because performance does not consider past actions.[25]

With the automation of institutionalized government services, trust can go both ways: both in the trust that people have for the government, and the trust the government places in its people. In the case of Indiana’s automated welfare system, the less skilled call center workers defaulted their decisions to the automated system and favored solutions that best fit the system rather than the people. When too much trust is put in e-governance, errors and mistakes are not caught.

UN e-Government Development Index

The Division of a Public Administration and Development Management (DPAPM) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) conducts a bi-annual e-government survey which includes a section titled e-Government Development Index (EGDI). It is a comparative ranking of 193 countries of the world according to three primary indicators: i) the OSI - Online Service Index that measures the online presence of the government in terms of service delivery; ii) the TII - Telecommunication Infrastructure Index iii) HCI -Human Capital Index. Constructing a model for the measurement of digitized services, the Survey assesses the 193 member states of the UN according to a quantitative composite index of e-government readiness based on website assessment; telecommunication infrastructure and human resource endowment.[26]

A diverse group of 100 researchers online volunteers from across the globe engaged with the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs (UN DESA) to process 386 research surveys carried out across 193 UN Member States for the 2016 UN E-Government Survey.[27]more than 65 languages, 15 nationalities, of which half are from developing countries—mirrors perfectly the mission of the survey.

The survey has been criticized not including an index of digital inclusion levels.[28]


‎[1] [^1] [2] [^2]


[^2]: Deloitte Research – Public Sector Institute At the Dawn of e-Government: The Citizen as Customer , 2000