E-government a powerful tool, UN survey finds

A new United Nations report has found that e-government is an effective tool for facilitating integrated policies and public service by promoting accountable and transparent institutions, such as through open data and participatory decision-making, and therefore it has the potential to help support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report 2016 UN E-Government Survey, produced every two years by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is the only global report that assesses the e-government development status of all 193 Member States of the UN.

Globally, the United Kingdom, Australia and Republic of Korea, occupied the top three positions in providing government services and information through the internet.

The E-Government Digital Index (EGDI) measures a country’s use of information and communications technologies to deliver public services. It captures three dimensions: the scope and quality of online services, the status of telecommunication infrastructure, and the existing human capacity.

Increased speed of growth

The report found that e-government has grown at a rapid pace over the past 15 years.

In the 2016 Survey, 29 countries scored ‘very-high,’ with EGDI values in the range of 0.75 to 1.00, as compared to only ten countries in 2003. Furthermore, 51 per cent of countries now had ‘low-EGDI’ or ‘medium EGDI’ values, down from over 73% in 2003.

Also important to note is that, since 2014, all 193 UN Member States have delivered some form of online presence. This is in stark contrast to 2003, when 18 countries, or about 10% of all countries, were without any online presence.


Realising the full impact of e-government

To realise the full potential impact of e-government for sustainable development, the report found that it needs to be accompanied by measures to ensure access and availability of ICT and make public institutions more accountable and more responsive to people’s needs.

It concluded that it is essential to ensure that the overarching objective of poverty eradication and “Leaving No One Behind”, a key principle of the 2030 Agenda, are at the core of efforts to mobilise ICT to realise the transformation the 2030 Agenda demands.

“For information and communication technologies to truly transform the public sector into an instrument of sustainable development, efficiency in service delivery must be also coupled with social equity and ensuring that all people can access quality services,” wrote Wu Hongbo, the top UN official on economic and social matters, in his foreword to the report.

“Such efforts are vital to making sure that the sustainable development goals are at the centre of all government policies and of public management and that no one is left behind,” he added.

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