Yesterday Capgemini announced that it was awarded by the European Commission a four-year extension of its seven-year e-government benchmark. From the announcement it looks like it will still be a supply-side assessment, applied on a regular basis to 31 countries.
I have not seen any further information about the details of the benchmarking methodology and how it has evolved with respect to the original one, which was looking at the degree of automation of 20 selected services. In its latest report in 2007, Capgemini had highlighted areas where measurement indicators could evolve, and there have been many calls (see here and here) for updating the measurement framework to take into account demand-side indicators as well as some of the issues that are challenging the traditional view of one-stop-shop government portals.
Will the new e-government benchmark measure to what extent government services are evolving toward a “government 2.0” model, where information and services can be composed by users and intermediaries? Will it consider a high level of service automation and integration (currently rated very high) a potential liability rather than a success factor?
I am looking forward to gathering more information from both Capgemini and the European Commission about this, but I am somewhat skeptical. Sometimes I find that the strenuous defense of the old, portal-centric e-government approach comes from the most surprising corners.
Further, the whole principle of benchmarking against a uniform set of metrics across countries that are fundamentally different from each other in terms of maturity of technology use in public sector, propensity to innovation, government-wide IT governance does make little sense. I do appreciate the political value of doing this but, unless this benchmark really help identify discontinuities and valuable path to service innovation, it will remain one of the many we have been criticizing over the last several years.
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