Problems Seen With Government Websites

24 May 2011

Local government websites still have a long way to go,  according to a number of surveys described at The First Global Conference on Transparency Research held May 19-20 at Rutgers University-Newark, N.J. (See overall report in FreedomInfo.org.)

A detailed look at municipal websites in the Ukraine indicated that many cities lack sites and that many have weaknesses (including several both claiming to the official site for the same city), but also cites best practices.

An examination of municipal websites in the United States ends with a similar conclusion:

The study reveals that a great deal of variation exists within municipal governments that actually do report performance online. At this point, online performance reports commonly provide a great deal of general information and less substantive and exhaustive details.

And in Italy, municipal governments display a “low degree of transparency in some relevant dimensions of government operations as service delivery and financial-related dimension,” according to another paper.

A study of several major U.S. federal websites found that “simple  access  to  government information is not enough.  A high level of information usability is essential to facilitate public participation.”

“Although e-government initiatives had spread among Brazilian municipalities, there are still many challenges to improve transparency, particularly if we consider that 40% of the municipalities do not have websites and also the fact that most websites are predominantly non-interactive,” according to a report by Hironobu Sano, professor of public administration at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. He anticipated “that e-government in Brazilian municipalities will continue to evolve in its own incremental pace and will not produce the rapid and dramatic changes that would lead to an e-democracy environment as predicted by normative theories.”

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