Friday, May 13, 2005

Review of Bannister (2004): Deep E-Government

Frank Bannister* of Trinity College, Dublin, is critical of benchmarking e-government stating that “Many of the benchmarks on the list use facile or superficial metrics such as the percentage of GDP spent on e-government, the number of on-line services for citizens or the percentage of citizens that have visited a government web site.” In his view “Much of what is described as e-government is indeed superficial” and “Much of what is not superficial is not considered to be e-government.” He therefore advances the concept of “Deep E-Government” concerned with “ the core functions of government and of administration.” Proposing an “onion model” of e-government and stating that “deep e-government” is concerned with the three inner layers of administrative core, agencies and government (the other two layers being “wider public” and “commercial sector”), his conceptualization of e-government encompasses two types of deep e-government: (i) Transformative e-government and (ii) End-to-end e-government.

Illustrated with practical examples, he is of the view that “the type of deep and more reflective discussion that is to be found in the informatization literature of the 1980s and 1990s seems to have been overwhelmed by discussions of such things as how to improve web-site effectiveness, measure e-government penetration or bridge the digital divide.” Accordingly he makes a call for “more consideration of(or even a return to!) deeper conceptual issues and for innovative thinking about how the nature of governance itself can be moderated by technology.” He has proposed several lines of enquiry and his recommendation that “we need to move beyond the web sites and regain an historical and holistic perspective” will find many supporters, including this reviewer. A very well written and thought-provoking contribution, any one interested in e-government will benefit by reading it, and perhaps more importantly, thinking over various issues so very pertinently raised by Bannister.

Dr D.C.Misra
New Delhi, India
May 13, 2005.
*Bannister, Frank (2004): Deep E-Government, EGPA 2004 Annual Conference, September 1-4, 2004, Ljubljana, Slovenia, available: (accessed: May 13, 2005).

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