Friday, February 01, 2008

BPN 995 Breaking Barriers to eGovernment

An EU-funded research project on 'Barriers to eGovernment', led by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, has identified the top barriers to successful eGovernment within the European Union. This three-year study, which started in January 2005, has identified and analysed barriers to eGovernment within the EU. Its results offer organizational and legal solutions to overcome these obstacles.

The project team reached these conclusions after undertaking in-depth case studies, an online survey and reviews of other work in this field. It also engaged closely with many leading experts, practitioners and other eGovernment stakeholders. The Study Team consisted of:
- Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, which is the base of the Project Management Team;
- Centre de Recherches Informatique et Droit (CRID), University of Namur, Belgium;
- Gov 3 Ltd, an eGovernment Consultancy;
- Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), University of Tilburg, Netherlands;
-Department of Administrative Law, University of Murcia, Spain.

The Internet and related electronic information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being used increasingly in Europe to enhance the delivery of public services and citizens’ democratic engagements with government. However, many such ‘eGovernment’ innovations that could benefit all citizens have been hampered by legal, organizational and other obstacles. For example, substantial differences between EU Member States and regions can create barriers to pan-European ePublic Services.

This overview highlights key solutions to help avoid or overcome these blockages, such as creating a network of eGovernment champions and establishing a citizen’s ‘eRight’ to access public services electronically. These recommendations are based on results from the European Commission’s ‘Barriers to eGovernment’ project.

Two main dimensions show the project results. Seven major barrier categories were identified by the project:
-- Leadership failures result in slow and patchy progress to eGovernment.
-- Financial inhibitors limit the flow of investment to eGovernment innovation.
-- Digital divides and choices where inequalities lead to differences in motivations and competences that constrain and fragment eGovernment take-up.
-- Poor coordination across jurisdictional, administrative and geographic boundaries holds back eGovernment networking benefits.
-- Workplace and organizational inflexibility impair adaptability to new networked forms of information sharing and service provision.
-- Lack of trust heightens fears about inadequate security and privacy safeguards in electronic networks.
-- Poor technical design leads to difficult-to-use eGovernment services and/or incompatibilities between ICT systems.

Eight key legal areas were analysed in detail:
-- Administrative law in many European countries that recognizes certain formal guarantees which can create legal ambiguities and obstacles for some eGovernment services.
-- Authentication and identification procedures for online users can become barriers if they are too costly, cumbersome or unreliable.
-- Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and copyright laws protect creative works but can also impair flexibility and fairness in some eGovernment applications.
-- Liability laws affecting new divisions of responsibility between government, businesses and citizens in online relationships can create anxieties and risks that impair eGovernment progress.
-- Privacy and data protection rights can facilitate or block information sharing in eGovernment activities.
-- Public administration transparency, such as Freedom of Information laws, can add costs to ePublic Services, as well as opening the possibility of greater access to government information.
-- Relationships between public administrations, citizens and other ICT actors can be difficult to manage, e.g. in contractual arrangements between public administrations and ICT suppliers.
-- Re-use of public sector information can raise complex legal issues when information from networked computer systems and databases are accessible from different jurisdictional and organizational contexts.

Visit the project website for comprehensive information about the project’s work and outputs. All deliverables are also available on

Blog Posting Number: 995


No comments: