Efficiency of Government Agency Websites in promoting social services

The Philippines has been on the World Wide Web since the early 90’s. This provided access to different websites from other parts of the world.  But, there must be factors that set one website apart from the others.  Government agencies are one of those that require an extremely reliable online presence.  Do these sites provide a complete user experience?

Based on GMA News Online references, MozCom was the first commercially available Internet provider in the Philippines starting in 1994. Since then, Philippines has been introduced to technological advances that promote globalism and social services. This has also paved way to the diversification of culture and people.

Columbian Professor Dr. James K. Scott wrote in his article entitled Assessing the Quality of Municipal Government Websites: “Websites are key tools for communication and services provision to multiple constituencies.” Indeed, this has become a doorway for the government to extend public service. Websites enable users to get information, apply for different programs provided by the government. Websites are now commonly used by most government agencies in promoting their public services. These websites serve as channels of communication between the community and the government.

Researchers of the undergraduate study entitled “Perceptions on Government Agency Websites and Social Services,” suggested that several factors must be put into consideration.


Accessibility and Utilization

These are the most vital factors on top of the list. Head researcher Al Ramil Sakilan noted that a website can be considered functional if it gets used by its intended users.

Today, government websites appear in various appearances. Typical applications within both local and national government can include: providing access, connecting to a service or a process, facilitating consultation and enabling active citizen participation. Through government websites, the user can perform secure transactions without the need to fill out paper forms and documents. In other words, doing business with government agencies is made more convenient, and cheaper for the common good.

It follows that the services of the organization must be stated clearly, in a manner that an average user can understand it.  The website must be accessible to almost all types of users, including those that are physiologically challenged.  Website developers, with the help of the website owners, must ensure web accessibility so everyone can use the website effectively.  W3C, browser and platform compatibility must also be observed in a website.

Prominence can be considered a sub characteristic of accessibility.  Governments usually do not have a problem in terms of website searchability.  The tons of traffic that government websites generate daily is enough to make it rank higher in search engine results page.  Visit iConcept SEO to know more about search engine optimization and how you website should behave online.


Location Gap

The researchers cited a 2005 article of Mehdi Asgarkhani, Electronic Journal of E-government.  It wrote: “Location Gap can be expected to consider as a barrier to the successful roll out of government websites. Some causes of the digital divide that can limit the successful implementation of government websites include: lack of telecommunications and network infrastructure and limited PC access, lack of financial resources for developing infrastructure, lack of Information Communication Technology and cultural resistance limited networking and internet access.”

The City Planning and Development Office recommended a total of 100 respondents from two types of community around Malolos, Bulacan area. Fifty (50) respondents came from developed barangays and another fifty (50) came from remote barangays.  The researchers described the location as relatively far from the existing reach of Internet facilities in the province.  This reflects a big challenge for websites, particularly government websites. The digital divide due to insufficiency of Internet facilities hampers the effective information dissemination and service distribution by governments.

Sakilan is optimistic that this problem is nearing resolution.  “Based on the news that I read, the Philippine government is stepping up its effort to augment the country’s Internet infrastructure,” the newly installed operations officer said adding, “Hopefully this becomes a consistent effort because we badly need to be at par with our neighboring Asian countries the soonest time possible.”


Promptness of response

Interactive, this is another good thing about websites.  Incorporate the necessary elements and it will do its purpose of interacting to the public.  The challenge for the website owners is to ensure prompt response to queries. If the web operator doesn’t give any reply this might lead to disappointment of the clients. At the end of the day, one will realize that this characteristic must be true for both e-government and the traditional government.  All transactions should be well coordinated, facilitated and provided so that clients or the citizens can get the assistance that they need.

Life was said to be made more easy and convenient.  With the help of several innovations, the governments around the world will be able to perform their duties notwithstanding some potential hurdles that cause the digital divide.  It is a good thing that our government is bringing their services closer to the people.  Filipinos, for example, are offered additional means to get their important documents such as birth certificates, licenses, NBI clearance, or even passports.  However, there are still areas to improve on.  Considering the people situated in remote areas, everyone must do his or her share so that governments around the world can extend their services to the people who also need them.