Ten years ago, Canada held the distinction of being the top ranked country in the world for the breadth and sophistication of its electronic government services. Citing the Canadian government’s integrated, strategic approach, annual assessments by Accenture found that more important services were offered online in Canada than anywhere else.
Fast forward a decade and Canada’s e-government rankings have steadily declined, a victim of astonishing neglect by the current Conservative government. Last week, the auditor general issued a scathing report on the state of e-government in Canada, noting the lost opportunities for reduced expenses and greater efficiencies as well as the complete absence of strategic vision.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the successful implementation of e-government initiatives should be a win-win scenario. For Canadian businesses and citizens, it offers convenience and round-the-clock access. For government, the shift online offers the promise of significant cost savings. Indeed, rather than simply eliminating programs, the government could focus on cutting costs by emphasizing lower cost electronic delivery of its services.