The communications regulator has found that fewer than half the UK population have used online government services. In a report published on 20 March 2009, Ofcom says that 42 per cent of those interviewed had used the internet to search for information about government or local council services, or used online services such as …
that actually sounds like a reasonable take-up
Given that a large fraction of individuals (even if we only take adults) don't have to fill in a tax form and fewer still are involved in financial dealings of a company, there's very little interaction needed with the burgeoning government machine. There is still a large number of people who don't want to use computers, don't like interacting with a "machine" or simply don't have the language skills (either as they're not good at reading/writing, or aren't fluent enough in english).
Where online services don't work is when you need to talk to someone, or ask (or answer) questions to determine what you qualify for, or what your entitlement is.
42% of people in the UK have used online government services? This sounds like a pretty impressive proportion to me. The government is so damn useless at actually getting anything done, I'd be surprised if that wasn't the reason why more people haven't bothered using the services, either online or off. Shame that doesn't seem to have been an option on the survey.
Tried and find wanting
I've tried to have a go,a nd either got so bogged down in badly-thought-out pages that I gave up, or i looked at the questions they were asking and decided I didn't want to answer them, but had questions they weren't asking that I woudl want to answer, so decided not to help them tick their boxes.
Excuse me, but I can't find a valid reason to hand the world at large more data to defraud me with, I'm funny like that.
Let's look at this current eGov idea in detail. We're forced, sorry, "asked" (to stay with New Labour's rewriting of the English language) to use a KNOWN leaky browser (IE) to talk to a service which appears to use technology of a vendor who is not exactly known for knowing much about security per se. But their sales people cut one hell of a good Powerpoint pack, so that's OK then.
All that data is then provided to a Government that appears to be mainly focused on finding new and innovative ways to lose confidential data to all and sundry by means of public transport and postal services. Given that nobody gets actually punished for this we can thus safely (pardon the pun) assume it's not accidental.
The latter is just to whip up some conspiracy theorists, my personal opinion is that one should not assume malice where blunt and blatant stupidity forms an adequate explanation.
I am *so* happy I moved country..
Not really surprising
You have to bear in mind that there is still a large number of people that prefer not to use computers amongst the population and, even amongst those that do, there are those that prefer to talk to somebody rather than fill in boxes on a screen. There isn't a lot to choose between accessing services on a PC and pressing endless sequences of buttons on one of those annoying telephone systems.
We knew this before eGovernment was started, we knew it when it was sprung onto the local authorities and, by golly, we know it now. So it is hardly surprising that a survey like this would turn up figures like this. The trouble is that the vaguely computer literate politicians that dreamt this up thought that it would be a cheap way of cutting the amount of money needed to run local services. Guess what, guys...
Not surprising, really
HM.Gov's plethora of websites are almost anit-intuitive. There appears to be money spent somewhere but not towards getting info out of the thousands of individual sites.
At the same time we, that's us plebs, are all supposed to be wired up to the hilt with broadband and we all have stonkingly fast P.C.'s (no one uses Macs or goes towards Linux) to deal with the grapics. Not only that but those who would benefit more from being able to use the on line stuff are those who are unlikely to use it. There's only so much 'new' that older folks can deal with at any one time but HM.Gov are going along the route of assuming that we all have fast conncections and are web-savvy.
With so many different departments that change names and people at the whim of Ministers - usually to cover up some cock-up - the bookmark you had last week is now redundant and you can't be arsed going through all the search results, again.
Worse still is the service from local authorities where it varies from all the info you could need to an almost text-based service where webpages are years old and there's nobody left to update anything.
That the websites themselves are crap in almost every respect hardly helps, and all seem to be designed by Mac-hating muppets. the uk.gov 'accessibility' site used to deliver text on a Mac that was so small as to be unidentifiable as text, let alone readable - something like 2px high. For what seemed like ages, my local council, Newham - NuLab inglorious 'flagship' - serve up all text with each word capitalised should you have the temerity to use a Mac. I really struggled with how that one came to be. Site architecture is generally poor on gov sites and when you actually find the info you want, it tends to be so inadequate you may as well not have bothered and just phoned instead.
Re: Well Duh...
"...my personal opinion is that one should not assume malice where blunt and blatant stupidity forms an adequate explanation."
I used to subscribe to that opinion but I feel it leads to being taken for a mug.
The amount of blatent stupidity defies a credible explaination.
Corruption and malice on the other hand often hide behind the accidental. It's OK to accidentally break something but not to deliberately break something.
It could well be that the deliberate loss of personal data CDs was precisely to discredit the governments ability to look after data. However that could be looked at in two ways; either the government are incompetant with data so don't let them have any more databases, or the government clearly need to spend a lot more money on much better databases.
Some government websites are actually quite good. 42% of people say they have used them, thats pretty good. Many old people say they don't use the Internet but then say "I ask my daughter to look it up".