In my client conversations about government 2.0, people seem to be giving for granted that there is an electronic version of government 1.0 (what used to be called e-government) that actually works and there is great urgency to move on.
I just had a counterexample. I was on the Italian Tax Agency web site, looking for information about how a EU foreign national can request a fiscal code to be able to apply for employment. As I could not find that information (I found instruction for Italian citizens and for non-EU nationals but not for EU foreign nationals), I clicked on a button saying “Contact the Agency” (it is the one with a smiling face at the top right hand corner in the picture below).
I then chose the email channel over phone, certified email (for which you need to register) or counter (you can book a visit), and this is what I got:
For those who are not fluent in Italian, the message says “We have reached the maximum number of receivable emails. Please contact us in the coming days or use alternative channels”.
Isn’t it ironic that in 2010 we still get such a message, and from an agency that has been one of the leaders in electronic services in this country?
Being cynical, this may be due to the desire of pushing people toward certified email as the only electronic means to deal with government online. Given the huge investment and promotion of certified email, there are still too few people registered (I heard about 200 thousands versus a target of 1 million by the end of this year).
Or there might be very valid technical reasons for such a message. Just, it is not something one would expect to see in 2010, when terms like scalability, agility and immediacy echo in countless conversations about the evolution of e-government services.
So let’s forget about government 2.0 for a moment and focus on the fundamentals here. I do not think people would be any less disappointed with a post on the Tax Agency’s Facebook page saying “Wall Closed due to Too Many Comments” than they are by the message above.