Assessing Citizen Utilization of E-Government Services: A Survey of Issues and Attitudes in Texas

By Strover, Sharon; Straubhaar, Joseph D. | Government Finance Review, October 2000 | Go to article overview

Assessing Citizen Utilization of E-Government Services: A Survey of Issues and Attitudes in Texas


Strover, Sharon, Straubhaar, Joseph D., Government Finance Review


In a newly released survey, researchers reveal their findings from a large survey of citizen attitudes on e-government in Texas. Among other areas, the survey questioned taxpayers on the types of services they would like to see offered over the Internet and who should pay for those services. The following is a selection of research from the larger study.

Editors note: This report is copyrighted by the University of Texas at Austin and is adapted with permission. To view the full report, visit www.utexas.edu/research/tipi.

The use of the Internet for transaction processing has developed significantly over the last three years. As the citizens gain more experience with emerging online tools and information resources for private-sector services, a similar level of service is being expected from government entities. In the State of Texas, the legislature and state leadership have promoted an electronic government agenda. The state's efforts are focusing on multiple aspects of an Internet-based model of service delivery. However, the state government also wants to ensure that citizens, the potential users of e-government services, are prepared to accept and use such services.

Electronic Government Task Force

The Electronic Government Task Force is addressing citizen and business interaction with government. The task force is working on an initial project that will show the ability of the state to:

* send documents issued by a state agency or local government to customers,

* receive applications for licenses and permits and receive documents for filing from members of the public, and

* receive payments from people regulated by a state agency or local government.

Additionally, an initial survey of other states' activities was undertaken in this area to define possible best practices or areas for Texas to improve upon in order to ensure a successful project. That review of other states' practices identified key issues for the task force, including the fact that some underlying benefits of e-government can include convenience, greater access to information, and the potential to reduce costs of individual transactions. However, to date, few other states have yet surveyed actual public interest in these potential benefits.

A number of states have proceeded with models for e-government projects that have both financial and privacy implications that may be problematic. Consequently, the State of Texas sought to assess public opinion on these sensitive public issues before proceeding with its design of an e-government model.

It is clear from the number of efforts in Texas that technology is an essential concern for the state, with significant impacts on both the public and private sectors. The government efforts in Texas, however, are moving forward with the recognition that e-government is a developing area. E-government models must ensure that the needs of the public and Texas businesses are met at the same time that government seeks to use technology to operate more effectively.

Public Opinion Survey

A public opinion research project was conceived as a way to assess a variety of issues related to public access necessary to use e-government services as well as public opinion about the proper form and emphases of those services among the residents of Texas. Such feedback could positively influence the development and use of e-government services in the state.

How we use computers and the Internet intersects several policy issues now that more social and civic practices, economic transactions, and government programs rely on them. The Texas Department of Information Resources has been investigating how to deploy what many perceive to be the next generation of government services. E-government services will be dependent on a Web-based or computer network-based delivery system. Consequently, how people use computers and the Internet, their attitudes toward both, and how they feel about various privacy and security issues associated with sharing personal information on the Internet are important considerations. …

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