User-centred approaches to e-government

October 25, 2009

A new document out from the OECD “Rethinking e-Government Services: User-centred Approaches” (240 pages) demonstrates how long its taken to turn the e-government aircraft carrier around to facing the citizen! Along with the recently published Cabinet Office guidance on Channel Strategy it would appear a new world has dawned upon the apparatchiks.

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The first chapter is entitled “A Paradigm Shift Towards Citizen Centricity” and what is states is that the message from the OECD leaders was that “the focus in public service delivery should be on user needs, demands, and satisfaction – not on the tools and service delivery channels governments have been focusing on since the mid-1990’s.” If we want a date for when the aircraft carrier started turning, this pronouncement was apparently made to the OECD Network of Senior OECD E-Government Officials 6-7 March 2008. My detailed research wants to get to the why’s and wherefore’s of the initial route and then the change twelve years later, but for the moment I’m just celebrating the move!

The chapter also asks whether “a user-centric approach forces governments to rethink whether a transformational” perspective on public service development and delivery is still the right one.” Importantly for the UK we have had the shift from e-government to t-government and presumably this  statement leverages both towards the door?

The fourth chapter is entitled “Monitoring and Evaluation User Take-up” , which lists the UK as having a national measurement framework, which may be a white lie, since what the document ultimately states is that “traditional metrics such as counting website hits and page impressions are not sufficient and often provide a very narrow and simplistic view of user take-up. Monitoring and analysing patterns of use, traffic volumes, user likes and dislikes, user satisfaction and attitudes towards information and data use, seasonal variation, audience breakdown, e-mails and feedback, and the use of search terms are all important elements in understanding how users consume electronic services.”  Unfortunately (for me), it doesn’t pick out the most advantageous metric(s) nor suggest that channel management requires all channels to be similarly measured but the next chapter does state that “countries have moved towards rethinking not just their Internet-based service delivery, but their service delivery in general without regard to delivery channel – to meet the users with services on their terms.” unfortunately, no examples are provided of the latter.

Strangely, I missed any mention of Web 2.0 or Government 2.0. whilst Andrea and others feel it’s still a hot topic?