E-government unit head Brendan Boyle says New Zealand’s ranking in an annual e-government readiness survey (see No worries on e-govt survey says Mallard) is appropriate, given that it has been concentrating on “getting the basics right before the e-government portal goes live in July this year”.
The second half of the year will bring more visible improvements in the way New Zealand citizens are able to interact with government, he says. “I am confident this improvement in service delivery will be reflected in next year’s Accenture survey rankings.”
Accenture managing partner Jack Percy acknowledges the way the survey has been done, with a focus on direct services to the citizen and businesses, might have under-recognised Boyle’s “basics” — infrastructure achievements like New Zealand’s meta data and portal projects — but he disputes that this gives the survey an unfair bias.
“We’re measuring what we’re measuring,” he says, “and by our measure, we think New Zealand’s position has been fairly evaluated.”
To get to the position of leading nations like the US, Canada and Singapore in terms of services offered, it is necessary to have done the infrastructure development first, he says.
The Accenture survey was done between January 7 and 18, so would have missed some of the development effort done on the portal, he says, but that work is not complete by any means.
The low rating on revenue services may also be seen as misleading in some quarters, he says, since Inland Revenue’s e-File service, allowing financial advisers to file individual tax returns, and the ir-File service, for companies to file monthly PAYE information on their employees, are “private” online communications and not publicly available on the internet in a way that makes them “visible to the survey”. And, of course, New Zealand’s Inland Revenue cannot cite online filing of the main individual tax return, the IR5, because it has been abolished. Some other countries that still have such a return get a tick in the revenue section for having put it online.
New Zealand’s current ranking should not be regarded as poor, Boyle argues. “As a country we are ranked only a few points below other countries, such as the UK and Germany, who have dedicated a great deal of resources into implementing their e-government strategy.”