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The e-Government Readiness Quick-check Tool

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The “e-Government Readiness Quick-check Tool” is a hands-on IT-tool that assembles data from six recognised indices and a pragmatic choice of indicators discussed in the framework available at this link.

The “e-Government Quick-check Tool” represents the status of the e-government environment in single countries and country groups using as a proxy data on five relevant indicators and indices: (1) ICT skills and (2) ICT access and use indicators, collected in ITU’s “ICT Development Index”; (3) indicators on ICT related laws published by the World Economic Forum; (4) “Worldwide Governance Indicators”, gathered by the World Bank; and (5) web-based public services indicators, published by UNDESA as a sub-index of its “Web Measure Index”.

The tool provides a graphical illustration of a country’s readiness status on four dimensions of the e-government environment: Infrastructure, policy, governance and outreach.

Further, the Quick-check tool allows users also to display simultaneous graphs to compare one country’s scores to those of another, of its peer groups –as defined in the World Bank’s income groups (low, lower middle, upper middle and high income economies), based on the distribution of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita-, as well as to those of an ITU world regions (Africa, the Americas, Arab States, Asia & Pacific, Europe and CIS countries).


Try the online e-Government Readiness Quick-check Tool from here  You can download a standalone version from here 


Dimension one: Infrastructure

Infrastructure is probably the most obvious and tangible dimension of e-government. Since e-government is characterised by procedures and services taking place between administrations on the one side and citizens or businesses (or other administrative entities) on the other, technical infrastructure is needed to carry information and services. This characteristic distinguishes e-government from earlier forms of interaction with an administration. e-Government provision is not linked to a specific technology, but rather to any electronic means that citizens and businesses use to send and receive voice, data, and images via the Internet, such as personal computers, laptops, personal digital assistant devices (PDAs), as well as mobile and fixed line telephony,

The effectiveness of e-government services in reaching citizens and businesses depends greatly in the availability of ICT infrastructure. Therefore, it is very relevant for decision makers to evaluate the status and development of ICT infrastructure in their countries and plan e-government projects accordingly. To assess the level of access to ICT infrastructure, decision makers can use data collected from telecommunication incumbents and Internet providers via individual, business and household surveys. A well-informed analysis would profit also from knowledge of the affordability of access to ICTs, looking at tariffs for certain services in comparison to per capita income levels.  

Finally, the infrastructure dimension also extends to the energy sector, as access to electricity is a precondition for a functioning ICT infrastructure.

Dimension two: Policy

A policy is a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Commonly, governments develop and implement policies to address basic socio-economic issues that are expressed in laws, budgetary actions, international agreements, declarations, contracts or campaigns.

Different types of policies shape the e-government environment. Trade regulations control the import and export of ICT goods, affecting the provision of services. Policies protecting local ICT industries, including tariff barriers, alter the movement and price of goods in a market. Similarly, antitrust regulations and market liberalisation strategies, enforced by telecommunication regulatory authorities, have created the conditions for greater competition in the sector, the introduction of new technologies and services, and better prices for consumers. Likewise, the inclusion of universal service obligations in the licences of telecommunication incumbents or Internet providers has promoted access to ICT infrastructure in least served areas, such as rural and low income communities.

Several countries have formulated comprehensive ICT strategies with the goal of accelerating their participation in the information society. The example of Egypt illustrates the close link that exists between general ICT polices and the e-government environment. Egypt’s ICT strategy 2007-2010 brings e-government into the country’s overall ICT strategy, proposing reforms in five key areas: state-of-the-art telecommunication and postal infrastructure, ICT access for all, ICT for education and Lifelong Learning, ICT for health, and innovation in the ICT industry.[1]  The same is true for Singapore, where the responsibility for general ICT policy, as well as for e-government policy, lays with the “Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore” (IDA). In the framework of its “iN2015” master plan and its “iGov 2010”sub-plan, IDA intends to encourage effective competition in the country’s telecommunication market. Further, IDA functions as Chief Information Officer (CIO) and is responsible for the security of crucial ICT infrastructure, master-planning as well as project implementation of government-wide ICT plans.  Box 2, below, provides more detail on the goals and strategies of both plans.

Policies protecting critical information infrastructure also shape the e-government environment. Cybersecurity policies—the protection of e-government infrastructure against failures and attacks from inside the system, as well as from outside—are essential once a country relies strongly on e-government services. Protective measures are particularly necessary for the provision of e-business or whenever sensitive financial or personal data are being transferred electronically. Protecting the privacy of individual users is also crucial to ensure citizen’s trust in the new communication technologies. Accordingly, laws and regulations on digital identification, digital signatures, e-payment and data protection are highly relevant, and are shaping the environment of e-government.  

While e-government policies depend strongly on the vision of decision makers, success requires for such visions to be formulated, expressed, shared and discussed with all relevant stakeholders to improve ownership and ease implementation. When policies fail to be implemented, the gap between plans, actions and expected outcomes grows, resulting in citizen dissatisfaction. 


Dimension three: Governance

Governance, that is, the performance of public administration, is an important factor for the success of e-government initiatives. The World Bank defines governance as the exercise of political authority and the use of institutional resources to manage society's problems and affairs.[2] The optimum performance an administration can strive for is to produce a “worthwhile pattern of good results, while avoiding an undesirable pattern of bad circumstances”.[3] Therefore, to achieve good governance, different factors need to be balanced, including costs, freedom of the individual vs. the common good, local, national or global interests, as well as short and long term gains vs. losses. The negotiation of these factors may lead to different results and performances, as places and times change.

Despite these divergences, there is general consent on the minimum requirements for good performance of national administrations. Commonly, it is recognized that a government performs well if it, at least, does not abuse its power, is not corrupt, and follows the due processes of law, which includes a division between the executive, legislative and judicial powers, and freedom of the press. This paradigm is also often called “good governance” in the development literature.[4]

Further, the success of e-government initiatives also depends on defining back-office workflows within the administration and on digitalizing and reengineering such workflows. Since citizens do not usually know the processes taking place within an administration, they judge its performance based on their personal experiences, drawing conclusions about the quality of governance according to the time it takes to complete standard procedures, like registering a car, and the reliability and consistency of such processes.


Dimension four: Outreach

“Outreach” is the dimension of e-government most prominently perceived and experienced by end-users, namely companies and citizens. Often referred to as the “horizontal integration” of public services, this dimension brings together various service offerings to the end-users.

One aspect of outreach is the supply of information and services by governments. Governments’ communication with and supply of information to businesses and citizens varies in intensity. Some administrations provide static information on web pages; others offer services online; and some others offer electronic consultation and participation. The European Union (EU), for example, practices online consultations of citizens. It applies e-government in order to overcome long distances, language barriers and the perceived democratic deficit of the institutions of the Union.

Service oriented e-government initiatives intend to bundle different services according to a combination that an end-user would perceive as a logical unit for one-stop-government. For instance, the government of Singapore is working on developing an even more user-friendly government portal.[5] To this end, provision of information in the front end should be improved; information should be presented in a better and more intuitive “look-and-feel” way, providing better search engines and including different types of media, such as video clips. Creating a one-stop government interface is a major challenge in national e-government efforts. The services that need to be integrated might represent numerous fragmented processes, requiring the involvement of a diverse number of stakeholders (see Box 2). 

e-Government activities are also affected by demand forces emanating from the particular needs and characteristics of citizens and businesses, such as education, ICT literacy, and other life circumstances. Many e-government applications consist of texts and are Internet based, thus requiring users to have at least basic computer literacy and, if they do not rely on agencies in telecentres or other service providers, the ability to read and write. Therefore, it is crucial for the success of an e-government project to understand the capability of the citizens the initiative is targeting. The one stop shop “Jan Seva Kendra” in India, (see Box 1 in the ITU e-Government Implementation Toolkit) is a good example of a low barrier e-government service provision project, where illiterate users have the option of receiving information through the telephone or talking to a civil servant in person.

Further, life circumstances, such as income, day-night rhythm, working hours, social structures, individual habits and culture, affect the demand for e-government services as well. For instance, in communities where the elder deal with the administration on behalf of the community, the demand for e-government services offered to individuals will probably be quite low; in contrast, individualized population in urban areas might prefer a seemingly anonymous way to communicate with authorities.

This dimension also covers outreach between national governments. Peer-to-peer learning, for instance, can be very helpful. Moreover, challenges like cybersecurity and cybercrimes are cross border issues that should be dealt with in a coordinated manner. Accordingly, engaging in global and regional fora on e-government can improve the e-government environment of a country. 


The indicators used

On Infrastructure:

The Quick-check Tool uses two sub-indices of ITU’s new “ICT Development Index” (IDI): The “ICT access sub-index” and the “ICT use sub-index”. The “ICT access sub-index” includes indicators on fixed telephone lines and mobile cellular subscribers per 100 inhabitants; international Internet bandwidth per Internet user; proportion of households with a computer and with Internet access. The “ICT use sub-index” is composed of indicators on Internet users, fixed broadband Internet subscribers and mobile broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants.


On Policy:

The Quick-check-Tool uses the “Global Competitiveness Report” by World Economic Forum (WEF), which provides data on ICT related laws for 134 economies. WEF monitors three highly relevant laws for the conduction of e-government activities: electronic commerce, digital signature and consumer protection. WEF examines not only whether ICT related laws have been formulated, but also if they are being enforced.[6]


On Governance


The Quick-check Tool uses data from the “World Governance Indicators” (WGI), collected by the World Bank since 1996 and published on an annual basis since 2002. The WGI reports data for 212 economies on government performance in the areas of voice and accountability; political stability and lack of violence; government effectiveness; regulatory ability, as well as on the rule of law and corruption control. To collect the data, the Word Bank surveys “a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries, as reported by a number of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations”[7] on the quality of governance.




The Quick-check Tool uses the  ICT skills” sub-index of ITU’s new “ICT Development Index” (IDI). It is composed of indicators on adult literacy rate, as well as secondary and tertiary enrolment rates, all weighted equally. This index was chosen for the quick-check Tool to describe the outreach dimension from the demand perspective.



The Quick-check Tool uses the “Web Measure Index” by UNDESA, which presents data collected from the assessment of online government services offered on the sites of the Ministries/Departments of Health, Education, Social Welfare, Labour and Finance. These web pages are chosen because they are considered to be the most relevant and the most in  demand by citizens. UNDESA collects this information on an annual basis for 192 countries. Accordingly, this is the index was chosen for the quick-check Tool to describe the outreach dimension from the supply perspective.



[1] Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT),

[3] Wikipedia “Governance”

[6] See World Economic Forum (WEF), 2008, Global Competitiveness Report.

[7] See Kaufmann, Daniel; Kraay, Aart; Mastruzzi, Massimo; 2008, Governance Matters VII: Aggregate and Individual Governance Indicators 1996-2007. The World Bank and World Bank Institute.


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Updated : 2010-04-28