A paradox we can’t work with?

March 10, 2009

As if responding to some of the recent comments upon this blog, I’d ordered an offprint of the editorial to the October 2008 edition of Government Information Quarterly an American-based academic journal of high standing. The article, since it is rather more than a usual editorial and is six pages long with a healthy set of references, bears the title: “The E-Government paradox: Better customer service doesn’t necessarily cost less.”

The first page is quite clear as to what the authors, John Carlo Bertot and Paul T. Jaeger, believe, as they state:

“here is the dilemma: to develop citizen-oriented E-Government services that achieve cost savings implies that governments know what citizens want from E-Government. And if they do not know, governments are actively seeking to discover what citizens want from E-Government. These sorts of information collection by governments, however, are rare at best. To engage citizenry in E-Government requires a range of iterative and integrated design processes.”

I entirely agree, in fact the processes I would argue are as rare as rocking-horse s**t, and I go further than that in my model by expecting the the iteration to occur across all channels, not just e-government ones.

The editors conclude that: “E-government is iterative and requires commitment, a desire to measure service quality, and a willingness to implement the lessons learned.”

Here, here! I also commend their use of the term ‘citizen’, this may indicate a turnaround in US thinking, away from the ‘customer’ focus of New Public Management days.

Bertot, J. C., Jaeger, P.T., (2008). “The E-Government paradox: Better customer service doesn’t necessarily cost less.” Government Information Quarterly 25(2): 149-154.