The United States ranks eighth out of 10 countries surveyed about citizens’ satisfaction with digital government services, according to a study released on Wednesday by the consulting firm Accenture.
The ranking trails the top-rated United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Norway, the United Kingdom, India and Germany.
The U.S. topped the list, however, in the maturity of its digital services and in researchers’ experience using those services.
Americans’ low satisfaction levels may be partly due to a sense that digital government services are aimed more at cutting costs than on providing better services for citizens, the researchers speculate.
The United Kingdom, which the report also describes as a “cutter,” ranked second in service experience but fifth in satisfaction.
The United States ranked sixth in the report for overall digital government. The top scorers on that list were Singapore, Norway and the UAE. Only India, Germany and Brazil scored lower than the United States.
The study was based on a quantitative analysis of each country's digital services, researchers’ experiences using those services and online surveys of 5,000 citizens in each nation. It was partly funded by an initiative run by the prime minister's' office of the United Arab Emirates.
Except for Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia, all of the surveyed nations had Internet penetration rates above 70 percent as of 2011, according to data compiled by the United Nations’ statistics division.
The United States also ranked low among citizens who say they would like to engage with the government via social media. About 45 percent of U.S. respondents said they’d engaged with the government on social media or would like to while 55 percent said they weren’t interested.
The top three scorers in that category also had the lowest Internet penetration rates in the survey, suggesting their respondents might be in a more selective group. The United States also ranked lower in social media engagement than some nations with high Internet penetration, however. In South Korea -- which had an 84 percent Internet penetration rate in 2011 compared to 78 percent in the United States -- 71 percent of respondents said they had or would like to engage with the government on social media.
(By Joseph Marks)