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Greater transparency and implementation of best practice will help to fuel the growth of successful egovernment initiatives around the world.

That's according to Marie Lowman, a speaker at The National eGovernment Summit 2004 which took place in Dublin on 23 and 24 November. The primary aim of the conference is to provide a forum where key parties within the egovernment sector can discuss developments and assess the challenges that lie ahead.

"Egovernment in Europe has come a tremendous way in the past 12 months, but there is room for further growth," said Lowman, SAS EMEA regional business development manager for the public sector. She told ElectricNews.Net that the implementation of best practices and greater transparency will help to fuel this growth in the sector.

But there are a number of challenges: current figures suggest that these are proving difficult to surmount for a large number of initiatives. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 70 per cent of government information technology implementations fail to meet expected outcomes.

"Government's need to learn from each other and benchmark themselves against others in the sector that are implementing best practices," said Lowman. "A lot can also be learned from listening to those who will be using the service."

One of the aims of egovernment is to open up the information channel to the public by allowing the people to become more involved in egovernment processes. Introducing egovernment services is supposed to increase satisfaction levels of citizens and businesses, she said. "End-users need to have a voice in how these initiatives are being run.

"Some initiatives tend to judge success with the incorrect indicators Just because a service is provided online does not make it successful; the service needs to be used by the end-user and to provide them with a level of convenience that was not there before."

A recent eGovernment Benchmarking Report compiled by IQ Content showed Irish egovernment websites coming up short in the accessibility and user satisfaction stakes. The survey sought to measure the performance of the websites from a user's perspective.

"Most egovernment surveys assess the availability of transactional services as a mark of maturity - the more services online, the better the provision," the IQ Content report observed. "But amid the targets, progress reports and maturity surveys, there has been very little attention given to users."

Lowman points to the need for more discussion forums and communication between all the concerned parties from government, public and private bodies to service providers and end users. Efficient evaluation programmes are also necessary to ensure that initiatives are assessed correctly, she said.

Copyright © 2004, ENN

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