The consumer paradigm causes a shift away from previous conditions that is similar to the shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. Citizens increasingly view themselves as consumers of government services. They want reasonable value for the money. They want the government to be there for them—not the other way around. ICT is a significant driving force in making the government closer and more responsive to its citizens as consumers of government services. If citizens can use the Internet to organize major products and services they need for life, why shouldn’t the same be true for government services and requirements? Many governments are still in the early stages of development when it comes to e-government.
Greater Efficiency Means Greater Performance
Changes have been substantial not only on the demand side, within the consumer paradigm, but also on the supply side with respect to government services. Demographic change and the need for solid budgeting policies are forcing governments to resize themselves. They must administer government services more efficiently. For reasons of tactical campaigning, these efforts will be reflected less in the scope of services offered to citizens than in the resizing of the processes needed to render the specific government services (for example, in health care, public safety, etc.). It becomes apparent that IT opens up considerable potential for savings and efficiencies.
Just as IT can be used to shape value chains in new and more efficient ways in the private sector of the economy, it can do the same with processes and procedures in the public sector. Modern budget planning, electronic file handling procedures, central procurement, online forms—IT is to thank for the introduction of all these innovations into the public sector. Much more can still be done. Why not make the government’s use of IT for its services cheaper and therefore more attractive to users? Why aren’t there more electronic forms you fill out in advance (thereby simplifying and spreading their use)? Why isn’t it possible to install a central Citizens’ Help Line where the call center agent can select from optional answers on a screen based on voice recognition software? This service could deal with a whole array of different inquiries from citizens quickly and efficiently.