Photo: Greg Parston, director, Accenture's Institute for Health and Public Service Value
Government agencies in the U.S. and worldwide are making big progress in using technology to improve citizen engagement and accountability, but are struggling to use IT as a means of analyzing citizens' preferences in order to tailor service delivery to individuals, according to a new report from Accenture, From e-Government to e-Governance:Using New Technologies to Strengthen Relationships With Citizens.
The report's findings come from an ongoing study by Accenture's Institute for Health and Public Service Value of dozens of governments and a series of Global Cities Forums that seek input from citizens. According to the report, governments are using new technologies to drive a move toward "a relationship [with citizens] that is about genuine engagement of people in their governance -- not one that is merely about voting in elections, answering surveys or paying taxes, as important as these things are."
Greg Parston, the institute's director, told Government Technology that many countries, particularly the U.S. and the UK, are making great strides in improving public engagement accountability through the use of technology. He cited as examples the dashboard of IT projects launched by federal CIO Vivek Kundra, the launch of Recovery.gov, and New York City performance reporting.
"But where people are really struggling is in the area of using new technologies to do customer segmentation analysis and to ensure access to citizens -- even citizens who are suffering because of the digital divide," Parston said.
Accenture found that citizens want their governments to deliver services tailored to their individual needs, instead of the "monolithic" way most governments do so, he said.
"I think government's hesitation might be that it's [perceived to be] more expensive to provide alternative ways of providing access to citizens," Parston said. "In fact, it's cheaper because what we're doing now too frequently is providing the same thing to everybody when not everybody can use it. So we're actually wasting resources. We're making things available for people who can't use it or won't use it."
Accenture's report is free to download in .pdf.
The report further explores previous Accenture research released last summer on the role of Web 2.0 in moving public agencies toward an e-governance model.
"In the end, what we learned from all of this is that the more citizens think that government is listening, accountable, educating them and is focused on their welfare, the more citizens trust government. And the more that citizens trust government, the more they are willing to work with government as a partner," Parston said.