One quarter of Australians go online for Government contact

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One quarter of Australians go online for Government contact

A Government-sponsored report that measures the uptake of government services through varying communication channels has found that a quarter of all Australians now conduct the majority or their dealings with government online.

The report, Australians' Use of and Satisfaction with e-Government Services – 2007, set out to provide an overview of the range and uptake of e-government services. Amongst its key findings, the report discovered that although the most common way of contacting government remains in person, this has steadily declined over the past three years: from 46 percent in 2004–05 and 43 percent in 2006, to 37 percent in 2007.

That 11 percent drop has now been picked up by the increasing preference to contact government through online channels. Contacting the government via online media has grown from 14 percent in 2004-05 to 25 percent in 2007. These statistics were backed up by an increase in the number of people who prefer to contact government by Internet – which grew from 31 percent in 2004-05 to 41 percent in 2007.

Finance minister, Lindsay Tanner, said the report provided valuable insight into Australian citizens’ views and use of online government services.

“Use of the Internet to access government services has changed significantly since these reports began in 2005,” Tanner said. “By measuring how citizens use government services in different ways, we can identify trends and analyse the experiences, preferences and evolving expectations of those citizens.”

However, preferences do not always reflect actual behaviour. This was mirrored in the report which found that more people prefer to use the Internet to contact government than those who actually did so. In 2007, only 70 percent of those who said they prefer their contact to be by Internet actually used that channel.

Tanner used the disparity between preference and behaviour to highlight the continuing challenges facing government administration in delivering services to the Australian public.

“Citizens are telling us they value convenience in their interactions with government agencies. Some prefer the Internet, while some prefer dealing directly with real people face-to-face or by telephone,” he said.

“However people prefer to access government services, this report provides a solid foundation for governments and agencies at every level to improve how their services are delivered.”

The report, which was conducted on behalf of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) by Roy Morgan Research, will form part of the information supplied to Sir Peter Gershon, who is currently conducting an independent review of the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Gershon will report to the Minister by September 2008 on options to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ICT within Government. The review is part of the broader ongoing reform agenda to improve the efficiency of government spending and deliver better value for money.

The Australians' Use of and Satisfaction with e-Government Services – 2007 report was collated from the responses of 4016 participants over the age of 18 in the period from May 2007 to June 2007. All respondents had some form of contact with a government agency in the preceding 12 months.
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