Asia Shows Up U.S. In E-Gov Study

While progress in e-government remains steady in the United States, countries in Asia have climbed the ranks to dominate the global top five.

For the fifth year in a row, researchers at Brown University evaluated 198 nations around the world to assess progress in digital-government initiatives. While the top three countries are the same as last year--Taiwan, Singapore and the United States, in that order--the ones on their tail changed a bit. Hong Kong climbed to fourth place from eleventh last year, and China overtook Canada to finish in the top five. The study also showed that 19 percent of government agencies around the world are offering online services, compared to 21 percent in 2004.

"Several Asian countries have made e-government a top priority and are investing significant financial resources in that area," says Darrell West, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University and research lead for the study. "They are producing results and, in some cases, starting to surpass the United States."

The report offers kudos to the United States' FirstGov portal, which provides citizens with a collection of information and services and to user-friendly, highly accessible agency Web sites. But despite that, the United States seems to be losing momentum, the report maintains.

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"The United States is slipping on electronic government because important budget resources are being diverted to homeland security," West says. "This is leaving less money for investment in other areas, including digital government."