What is e-government for?

The more I think about, read about and consider electronic government the more I am confused.

I suspect the horns of the dilemma are the constant misfit between representative and participatory democracy. With one hand we have government encouraging electronic service delivery and with the other restraining electronic democracy, this is particularly noticeable at a local level.

My model encourages citizen engagement but if we are labelling them customers, its obvious we only want to do service business with them not completely engage around policy and democracy.

As a number of people have pointed out many of the services governments deliver could be done by or mediated by other bodies such as private third-parties or charities. There is a misconception that only government should do it as a trusted agent, but unfortunately if they don’t public involvement in decision making they won’t be trusted and anyone might as well deliver the services! It’s not possible to turn a one-way street into a two-way one whenever one party wants it, it just will not work.

Chadwick, A., May, C., (2003). “Interaction between States and Citizens in the Age of the Internet: “e-Government” in the United States, Briatin, and the European Union.” Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration and Institutions 16(2): 271-300.

Pratchett, L. (1999). “New Technologies and the Modernization of Local Government: An Analysis of Biases and Constraints.” Public Administration 77(4): 731-750.

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