The end-to-end electronic delivery of UK public services, from government procurement to citizen portals, has continued to improve, according to a European Commission study released today.
The ninth EC Benchmark Measurement on EU e-government (PDF) placed the UK ninth out of 32 EU countries surveyed in terms of "online sophistication". This measures the availability of information, one and two-way interaction, transactions and targeting or automation.
The UK improved its e-services online sophistication ranking to receive a rating of 100 per cent for business and 94 per cent for citizen services to be ranked seventh overall behind Ireland, Italy, Malta, Austria, Portugal and Sweden.
The UK's e-services also received a 100 per cent rating in terms of transparency of service delivery, multichannel service provision, privacy protection, ease of use and user satisfaction.
This is compared to the EU average of 82 per cent in 2010 and 69 per cent in 2009 in terms of the availability of 20 basic services, such as job searches and benefits guides.
Meanwhile, the sophistication rating of services stood at 90 per cent last year, amounting to a year-on-year increase of seven per cent.
In the field of e-procurement government services, the report found that many countries do not structurally monitor the benefits achieved, despite their increased need to realise savings from automated group buying capabilities.
Scotland was a notable exception, having reported audited savings of almost £800m over a four-year period.
The report also praised the national Buying Solutions e-procurement portal, but said that the UK's decentralised e-procurement strategy tends to mean maintaining multiple platforms at local, regional and national levels.
The EC called for greater transparency and consistency in the supplier selection process across EU nations to help increase the scope for competition throughout the region.
Most EU e-services are still delivered independently, meaning that citizens must visit separate services to administer different aspects of their personal or working lives.
The report's recommendations centred around "government as an application programming interface" to harness the potential for public agencies to enable private and third-sector players to develop e-service extensions, hosting citizen portals or developing specific software or apps, for example.
The data.gov.uk initiative was praised for its contribution to the UK's ability to personalise e-services beyond simple levels of general availability.
"We must bundle services so they are relevant to customers. In seeking out leading practices, it is important that EU nations look outside the region," said Graham Colclough, vice president for the global public sector at Capgemini.
"As globalisation continues, Europe's competitiveness will depend on governments' abilities to deliver effective services in an international context."
The study was carried out by Capgemini, Rand Europe, IDC and the Danish Technological Institute.
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