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The impact of new communication technologies on public administration: a comparative analysis on the e-government policies in Britain and Turkey */Yeni iletisim teknolojilerinin kamu yonetimine etkisi: Ingiltere ve Turkiye'deki e-hukumet politikalarinin karsilastirmali analizi.

ABSTRACT

Rapid developments realized in information and communication technologies since the beginning of the 21st century have led to significant transformations also in the field of public administration like in several fields in social life. As public services have started to be delivered in electronic environment via information and communication technologies, conventional government applications have left their place to e-government applications based on interaction and citizen satisfaction.

Today all the countries in the world take part in a race to successfully adopt e-government applications so as to deliver better service to their citizens and acquire a more modern appearance. Setting out from the assumption that democratisation processes and socio-economic development levels of countries are determining factors in e-government applications, this study aims to analyse the e-government applications of Britain and Turkey, two countries with different historical backgrounds and socio-economic development levels.

Key Words: E-government, public administration, information communication technologies.

OZET

21.yy dan bu yana bilgi ve iletisim teknolojilerinde meydana gelen hizli gelismeler sosyal hayatin pek cok noktasinda oldugu gibi kamu yonetimi alaninda da onemli olusumlara yol acmistir. Kamu hizmetleri bilgi ve iletisim teknolojileri sayesinde elektronik ortamda yurutulmeye baslandigi icin geleneksel hukumet uygulamalari yerini etkilesim ve halk memnuniyetine dayali e-hukumet uygulamalarina birakmistir.

Gunumuzde, dunyadaki butun ulkeler vatandaslarina daha iyi bir hizmet sunabilmek ve daha modern bir gorunum elde edebilmek icin e-hukumet uygulamalarini basarili bir sekilde uyarlamada bir yaris icerisindedirler. Demokratiklesme sureci ve ulkelerin sosyo-ekonomik gelismislik seviyeleri e-hukumet uygulamalarinda belirleyici bir etmendir varsayimindan yola cikarak bu calisma farkli tarihsel arka planlari ve sosyo-ekonomik gelismislik seviyeleriyle iki ulkedeki, Ingiltere ve Turkiye'deki e-hukumet uygulamalarini analiz etmeyi amaclamaktadir

Anahtar kelimeler: e-hukumet, kamu yonetimi, bilgi ve iletisim teknolojileri

Introduction

The developments in areas of informatics and communication have brought about significant transformations in almost every sphere of social life, creating an information society. Societies which use the information in an efficient and active way are able to increase their welfare standards by making rational decisions in economic and social areas. Information societies with the opportunities provided by the new information and communication technologies have a state structure and a governance model which enable them to establish and develop active and efficient public administration, and also a participatory democracy. This model is called e-government.

E-government should contribute to the development of e-democracy by creating openness and also by making it possible for government institutions to be controlled and checked. For the realization of e-democracy, the information and communication technologies should be used and accessed equally by all sections of society. Digital divide, which is the uneven distribution and use of information and communication technologies prevent the realization of e-democracy and the effective operation of e-government. Digital divide is observed not only between different sections of a society but also between different countries. When we look at the worldwide distribution of the Internet we see that Internet is being used by a minority who live mainly in the developed countries whereas the majority of the world population has a limited, or in some cases no access to the new communication technologies.

The socio-economic development and democratization levels of countries have a determining effect on the implementation of e-government models. This study will examine and question the e-government practices of two socio-economically different countries, Britain and Turkey.

Informatics Revolution in Public Administration

The age we live in is designated as the information age due to the rattling developments in today's information and communication technologies. This age, with information as its genuine element of value, has been going through a revolution in producing, processing and transferring information. These developments in information and communication technologies have paved the way to the transformation of societies into information societies.

New information technologies give rise to economical, cultural and political changes in every area of social life. All these advancements have also re-shaped the relationship between governments and citizens. Governments are now faced with a new citizen profile demanding more and better service. Therefore, it has become impossible for the governments to ignore any longer the requirements of the age and the demands of citizens.

Information and communication technologies are agreed to have the potential of deeply influencing the intra-organization mechanisms of public administrations via control, supervision, communication, and information management (Snellen 2002 qtd. in Balci 2003, p. 266). Reconstruction of public administration through information and communication technologies requires certain conditions. In the first place, public servants should adopt the notion of considering citizens as customers. The arrangements should be grounded on the principle of doing more work with lesser cost. Besides, the services should be provided on the basis of openness and transparency. Finally, necessary attempts, such as initiating education programmes for the public personnel to adapt the new system, should be given a continuous and permanent pace so as to increase the computer literacy of users and to increase their consciousness and trust for the system (Ince 2001, pp. 15-19).

Together with the usage of information and communication technologies in public administration, revolutionary changes have been experienced in the delivery of public services. While the stagnant and centralist bureaucratic government model, which adopts one-way communication and has high costs of process, fails to meet the expectations and demands of citizens; we have witnessed the emergence of a new interactive administration model that is based on citizen satisfaction, enables 7 days/24 hours access to public services, and eliminates the limitations of time and space. This new formation is called e-government.

The New Form of Government: Transition from Bureaucratic Government to E-Government

The concept of e-government, which is the combination of 'electronic' and 'government', refers to the realization of government services in an electronic environment. Different definitions stand out when the literature on this subject is perused. The common point shared by all these definitions is that they all emphasize the functions provided by e-government. In plainest terms, e-government may be defined as "the use of electronic communication technologies both by the government in providing the citizens with obligatory services and by citizens in performing their duties and services for the government in an uninterrupted and safe environment" (Arifoglu et al. 2002, p.12). It "refers to the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of government" (The World Bank, online). It includes the relationships between "Government to Citizen, Government to Employee, Government to Business and Government to Government" (Fang 2002, p.3).

E-government is a significant re-construction model, which will grant efficiency, transparency and development through the usage of information and communication technologies in administration for strategic objectives (Kuran 2005, p.11). E-government services has provided several benefits, which can be classified as follows: (The World Bank, online)

Aligning ICT-investments with international technical and business standards

Simplifying and integrating government services;

Drastically reducing the time the citizens and businesses spend obtaining/submitting information from/to the government;

Increasing government transparency and anti-corruption;

Improving government finances through enhanced revenue collection and cost reduction

Improving the business environment in the country for private sector development and to attract foreign direct investment.

Upgrading of government staff skills

Facilitating ICT awareness and skills-training within the larger populace.

Strategic objectives of e-government applications, which recognize citizens as customers and prioritize quality in delivering service, can be categorized in two different groups as external and internal objectives (Backus 2001, online).

External strategic objectives. The external objective of e-government is to satisfactorily fulfil the public's needs and expectations on the front-office side, by simplifying their interaction with various online services. The use of ICTs in government operations facilitates speedy, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective interaction with the public, citizens, business and other agencies.

Internal strategic objectives. In the back-office, the objective of e-government in government operations is to facilitate a speedy, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective process for performing government administration activities. Significant cost savings (per transaction) in government operations can be the result. It can be concluded that e-governance is more than just a Government website on the Internet. Political, social, economic and technological aspects determine e-governance.

Six basic principles are determined at the end of a recent research carried out on the government websites concerning the success and failure of e-governments: (Riley 2003, online)

1. Citizen participation in the process of e-government will be inevitable if programs are to succeed.

2. E-democracy is a growing trend amongst outside groups but most governments are still very much struggling with the concept.

3. E-governance is changing the ways in which government does business with the public and, in the process, is creating demand for some form of participation from the citizen. This gives some credence to the ongoing thinking that e-governance will eventually incorporate some form of e-democracy.

4. E-democracy movements are founded on information precepts and engage in the sharing and developing of knowledge.

5. To influence government policy, programs or policy evolution, the creation and sharing of knowledge by governments to the public is going to become mandatory.

6. Information and knowledge sharing are now essential in an age that is creating worldwide change and spurring us into a new Renaissance.

Alfred Tat-Kei Ho in his work entitled "Reinventing Local Governments and the E-Government Initiative" compares the public service delivery of bureaucratic government and e-government (2002, p.437). In terms of orientation, bureaucratic paradigm is based on production cost-efficiency, while e-government paradigm emphasizes user satisfaction and control, and flexibility. Regarding process organization, bureaucratic paradigm focuses on functional rationality, departmentalization, and vertical hierarchy of control; on the other hand e-government paradigm focuses on horizontal hierarchy, network organization, and information sharing. As for management principle bureaucratic paradigm holds the principle of management by rule and mandate; while e-government's attitude is determined by the principle of flexible management, interdepartmental team work with central coordination. Bureaucratic paradigm's leadership style is based on command and control, but e-government aims for facilitation and coordination, and innovative entrepreneurship. While the internal communication of bureaucratic paradigm is top-down and hierarchical, e-government's internal communication is founded on multidirectional network with central coordination and direct communication. Furthermore, external communication of bureaucratic paradigm is centralized and formal with limited channels; however e-government's understanding of external communication is formal and informal, and adopts direct and fast feedback through multiple channels. Bureaucratic government uses documentary mode and interpersonal interaction for service delivery; whereas e-government delivers public services via electronic exchange and uses non-face-to-face interaction. Finally, bureaucratic paradigm's principles of service delivery are based on standardization, impartiality and equity; while e-government paradigm embraces user customization and personalization.

Accordingly, e-government application, which provides transparency, efficiency and savings in public administration, embodies several advantages in terms of efficient public service delivery compared to bureaucratic government model.

The concept of 'governance' that may be identified as mutual governance lies at the basis of the efforts of implementing e-government applications against bureaucratic government model. The understanding of a governing and demanding bureaucratic government gives its place to a new administration model that puts citizens at the centre and acknowledges interaction as its fundamental principle (Ince 2001, pp. 69-70). It is discussed that transparency in administration will increase with the application of e-government, and therefore it will be possible to form a better understanding of governance (Goker et al. 2002, pp. 223-224). The structure of governance granting meaning to e-government model should be a non-centralist one that will enable coordination between public units, give priority to citizen participation, and facilitate the autonomy of local administrations (Yurutucu 2002, online). Such a governance structure will also contribute to the development of e-democracy.

It is evident that e-government services will facilitate the efficiency of public services and thus increase citizen participation and the control of public services if they are aligned with a good understanding of governance. Yet, the anticipated democracy through e-government can only be realized if information and communication technologies are equally and justly delivered to all levels of society, and therefore digital divide is prevented. Otherwise, an efficient public administration intended by e-government, and the ideal of e-democracy may not be carried into effect (Uckan 2003, p.41). Undoubtedly, e-government applications and the results to be obtained from these applications are shaped in accordance with the structural conditions of each country.

E-Government Applications in the World

When the applications throughout the world are considered, transition to e-government is observed to have been realized in two ways. The websites of public institutions are either installed independently without any coordination in between, or e-government applications are coordinated by a single portal and the websites of public institutions are integrated (Yurutucu 2002, online). The second way requires an advanced technology and a strong financial infrastructure, but yields much better results.

Basic criteria for a successful e-government application can be listed as follows: (Erdal 2004, pp. 151-152)

Before all else, government support is essential for development in e-government.

E-government projects should be claimed by parties concerned so as to improve efficiency in public institutions and organizations.

"Political leadership and vision" is required in sustaining long-term politics in informatics.

"Financial resources" necessitated for information technologies should be provided.

Knowledge and skills of the personnel serving in public institutions should be improved, and e-culture should be generalized among users.

Public units should be coordinated.

Legal infrastructure should be formed for e-government.

The infrastructure of information and communication technologies of a country should be strengthened.

Citizens should support and contribute to e-government applications.

Long-term investments should be made in human resources.

Citizens should be in continuous cooperation with non-governmental organizations and establishments.

E-government projects and applications should be monitored and evaluated.

Security and privacy are essential for the success of e-government applications.

Internet and communication costs should be reduced for the generalization of e-culture, therefore e-government applications, in society.

Today, almost every country strives to become an e-government in order to benefit from the advantages of information and communication technologies in delivering public services. Therefore, plans and programmes are being developed and put into practice on the way to becoming e-governments in order to claim place among the developed countries in the modern world.

In the "Global E-Government Readiness Report" published by the United Nations in 2005 (Online), regional e-government readiness ranking reveals that North America heads the list with 0,8744 points and Europe comes the second with 0,6012 points. The ranking continues as: South & Eastern Asia (0,4922), South & Central America (0,4282), Western Asia (0,3448), Oceania (0,2888), Africa (0,2642). Accordingly, economically developed regions rank higher in e-government applications. This, in turn, explicitly displays the digital divide, in other words the unfair distribution in access to information and communication technologies in the world. The gap between these regions, which are the producers and consumers of information and communication technologies, gradually increases.

E-Government Applications in Britain

Britain initiated e-government practices in the middle of 1990s. The websites of British public institutions, which were first formed rather for informative purposes, are today transformed into interactive bodies where several services are offered in an electronic environment. Presently, Britain is among the world's leading models successfully providing public services in an electronic environment through e-government applications.

E-government practices have gained speed in Britain when the "Office of e-Envoy" was founded under the Cabinet Office in 1997 for the purpose of coordinating the applications of "e-government, e-commerce, and information society" (IDABC 2006, online). As for the main functions of the e-Envoy, it "owns the e-government strategy on behalf of minister; leads the e-business thinking in government; provides strategic prioritization of e-government infrastructure and policy issues; accelerates and co-ordinates work to get services on-line; monitors the strategy implementation and reports progress to ministers" (Zahran 2003, online).

The British government materialized "The UK Government Gateway" project in cooperation with Microsoft. Connection to more than 1000 government websites is provided by a single portal established within the scope of this project. The aim is to unite 200 centres and 482 local government institutions for 60 million citizens and 3 million business establishments (Arifoglu et al. 2002, p. 48). Citizens and firms can securely benefit from e-government services by registering to Gateway. For a more secure access to e-government services, the government aims at realizing the distribution of the electronic ID cards, which would contain a microchip storing personal data, biometric identifiers and an electronic signature of Britain, by 2008 (IDABC 2006, online).

There are four fundamental principles that determine a strategic framework for public services in e-government applications in Britain: "Building services around citizen choices; making government and its services more accessible; ensuring that new technology does not create a digital divide between those with ready access to electronic media and those without; and using information more effectively" (Fang 2002, p.14).

The outstanding feature distinguishing e-government applications in Britain from other countries is that the process develops on the basis of citizen demands, and democracy is observed by taking the opinions of nongovernmental organizations into account in every step of the process (Yildirir and Karakurt 2004, online). Non-governmental organizations have assumed a pioneering role in the development of representative democracy by using information and communication technologies, especially the internet. "Have your say" campaign initiated on the internet by the UK Citizens Online Democracy before the 1997 elections is still remembered as the best example of participation (Gokce, et al. 2002, p.218).

E-Government Applications in Turkey

E-government, like many concepts highlighted in the process of modernization, was put on Turkey's agenda within the framework of the negotiations carried out with the European Union. The European Union has determined a strategic goal for the transition to information societies in order to have the most powerful knowledge-based economy in the 21st century throughout the world, and adopted the e-Europe Action Plan in 2000 with the participation of 15 member states. The Union agreed on including the candidate countries in the process of forming information societies, and put a similar plan (e-Europe+) into practice for the candidate countries in the same year. Turkey was officially included in the e-Europe Action Plan in 2001.

In line with this agreement, Turkey has started e-Turkey project so as to catch up the new age and become an information society. Main objectives of this project are to rapidly generalize the use of internet in society by reducing use charge, to provide the citizens with better service by using information and communication technologies in public services, and to take immediate steps necessary for the transition to becoming an information society.

It has been observed that investments in information and communication technologies in public institutions have rapidly increased in Turkey. The amount of allowance granted for public information and communication projects was 158,8 million US Dollars for 203 projects in 2002 investment programme, 208,6 million US Dollars for 204 projects in 2003, and 281,3 million dollars for 211 projects in 2004; while this amount increased to 388,4 million US Dollars for 200 projects in 2005. Total project cost of information and communication technologies investment in 2005 investment programme is 1,295,725 US Dollars (E-Devlet Proje ve Uygulamalari 2005, p.2).

At present, projects of world-wide significance are materialized in Turkey in the field of e-government. Central Census Bureau System (MERNIS) project is one of these projects conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (T.C. Icisleri Bakanligi Nufus ve Vatandaslik Isleri Genel Mudurlugu, online). The initiation of MERNIS project in 2003 with the support of the World Bank has launched many services, such as the modernization of citizenship affairs, the transfer of birth records to electronic environment, and electronic transmission of information to public institutions.

As of 25 August 2005, Turkey has 6722 institution websites providing public services. Among these, the number of public institution websites with "gov.tr" extension connected to central administration is 3029, and the number of websites with "bel.tr" extension belonging to local administrations is 1001. The rest of the websites give service under other public institutions and organizations (E-Devlet Proje ve Uygulamalari 2005, p.2).

When the websites of public institutions in Turkey are examined, it stands out that most of these websites function with informative purposes, and fail to provide the citizens with interactive services except services such as passport application, citizenship number inquiry, and payment of motoring fine. Whereas, interactive services constitute the essential part of e-government applications.

The most common problems experienced in the process of transformation into e-government are: (Erdal 2004, p.150)

Deficiency of institutions to figure out plans, programmes and create vision in respect of e-government

Deficiency in law and legislation in legal and technical field

Lack of coordination between public institutions and organizations

High investment costs of projects

Prices paid for software and hardware technologies

Lack of knowledge in the level of public administration, and prudence towards reconstruction programmes

Resistance in public personnel against new technology applications

Necessity of education and communication

Conventional political policies, and disagreement and conflicts between administrators

Bureaucratic difficulties

It is possible to say that Turkey is still in the initial stages of e-government applications. Currently, there are ongoing independent projects, and coordination of these projects is highly important in terms of time and cost saving. For the successful application of e-government projects, realization of legal arrangements without any loss of time is essential as well as finalizing the required technical infrastructure. Arrangements to provide free access to public information are prioritized in this matter.

Another significant point in the transition to e-government is the citizens' accessibility to these services. Hence, internet usage should be generalized in all levels of society. In Turkey, only certain parts of society has access to internet. Reducing the cost of internet access and spreading internet usage is an important step to be taken in preventing digital divide. "Turkish National Information Infrastructure Plan" (TUENA) project initiated for this purpose aims at providing this facility by 2010 for every house and company that wants to have the required tools for access to national information (TUENA Ulusal Enformasyon Altyapisi Anaplan Proje Ofisi, online). Besides accessibility to internet, increasing the internet employability and computer literacy is also essential. For this purpose, the government should organize campaigns in coordination with non-governmental organizations, and found education centres.

Transition from traditional government applications to e-government is undoubtedly a multi-dimensional and complicated process. For a developing country like Turkey, the process of e-government formation bears greater difficulties due to financial and technical infrastructure requirements. Yet, when it is taken into consideration that developing countries are also among the ones to have successfully completed this process in the world, Turkey may achieve this goal if it carries out this process in an integrated way with a programme compatible with its own structural characteristics and with projects prepared in line with citizen demands.

Methodology

As e-government applications have gained speed all around the world since 1990s, e-government researches have been put on the agenda. Although they differ in their problematic, the common point of these researches is their enquiry on the countries' success in e-government applications. Due to the fact that e-government projects have wide-ranging and complicated structures including the activities of both central and local administrations, it is hardly possible to talk about a shared strategy on e-government researches. Numerous e-government analyses have been made until today on the websites of public institutions by both grounding the researches on various criteria and including the citizens using these services (Hoi-Yan mo and Zaphiris 2003, Holzer and Melitski 2003, Moon 2002, Withrow, et.al 2000).

E-government services have started to be delivered in an integrated way through a single portal together with the advancements in e-government applications. Through the medium of these portals, citizens and private sectors have found the opportunity to organize their relationship with the government through a single channel. In this study, e-government portals of Britain and Turkey will be analyzed and the e-government applications of these two countries, whose democratization and socio-economic levels are different, will be examined and compared. E-government portals of these two countries (www.direct.gov. uk/ www.turkiye.gov.tr) were submitted to examination between 15-30 August 2006. The methodology of the research was grounded on the article of Gibson, Margolis, Resnic and Ward entitled "Election Campaigning on the WWW in the USA and the UK: A Comparative Analysis" (Gibson, et al. 2001, online).

Research Findings

Both government portals included in the research were analyzed according to their functions and delivery features, and the success of Britain and Turkey in e-government applications regarding content and format were compared.

See Table 1: Functions of Government Portals in Britain and Turkey

The functional features of the British government portal prove it to be highly rich in information provision. The portal provides information about Britain, the British Parliament, Monarchy, central and local administrations in Britain, and political parties, as well as the organization structure and history of e-government studies in Britain. National and global events and developments are introduced under the "newsroom" heading. The portal also offers information on travel plans and transportation facilities. "Frequently Asked Questions" section has not been encountered during the research. However, the users are guided in the "help" section. The portal also includes privacy policy which is very important for the users.

The analysis on Turkey's government portal has revealed that its information provision is vertical. The portal does not provide any information about e-government organization, its history, ideology and values. The users are offered detailed information about ongoing e-government projects besides the developments in information technologies both in Turkey and the world. The organizations and activities are also announced. The portal does not include any information about privacy policy.

One of the most significant criteria for determining the success of an e-government application is the delivered services and their quality. When the British government portal is examined, it is seen that almost all the government services are delivered electronically. Furthermore, there is also information to guide the users in using these services. Under the heading "do it online", there are several services offered in the fields of education and learning; home and community; money tax and benefits; travel and transport; crime, justice and the law; motoring; employment; health and well-being; leisure and recreation; rights and responsibilities. These services include income tax declaration, job searches by labour offices, social security contributions, personal documents, car registration, application for building permission, declaration to the police, public libraries, certificates (birth, marriage) request and delivery, enrolment in higher education, announcement of moving (change of address), and health-related services (e.g. appointments for hospitals) (IDABC 2006, online). It has been observed that most of these services do not only give information, but are interactive.

In the "top choices" section of the portal, the services preferred most by the visitors are specified. During the period of this research, "top choices" section included these items: find schools, childcare and nurseries; find a job; find a local health services; find a course; find your council; find a government department. The portal also consists of special sections with headings such as: parents, disable people, over 50s, Britons living abroad, caring for someone and young people. These sections provide the related users with information to facilitate both their lives and their relationship with the government.

Turkey's government portal offers services such as, learning citizenship and identity number, reaching social security information, learning motoring fine point, and accessing documentary information like e-legislation, e-notice and e-archive. Provided services are informative rather than interactive. The portal announces the users that the studies on e-government applications are being carried out rapidly and the services will increase with the completion of these studies.

Additionally, the British government portal reveals a better performance than the Turkish government portal in terms of participation function. The British government portal includes the e-mail addresses of the people and institutions delivering service. There are buttons which the visitors can use for stating their opinions, and forums they can participate. The visitors are also offered the opportunity to chat and have online debate with the authorized persons. In the Turkish government portal, the visitors also have the opportunity to declare their opinions about every news introduced in the portal, and they can transfer their views and suggestions by means of a button. Furthermore, under the heading of "editors", the visitors are invited to assume the role of an editor for sharing their knowledge and experience with other internet users, and they are asked to fill in an online form for this purpose.

Regarding "networking" function, the British government portal includes links to public institutions and organizations dependent on central and local administrations. In addition, the citizens are led to several websites of interest (education, health, etc.) by clicking on the "useful links". On the other hand, the networking function of the Turkish government portal is observed to be inefficient, for it includes links only to certain public institutions and universities.

See Table 2: Style and Delivery of Government Portals in Britain and Turkey

Research on the delivery of e-government portals has disclosed that the British government portal is visually richer than the government portal in Turkey.

In terms of accessibility, the British government portal has been observed to present information also in Welsh. On the other hand, Turkey's government portal does not deliver information in any foreign language. Moreover, the British government portal includes a special arrangement enabling access for visually impaired users. While the British government portal is 40,6 KB, the Turkish government portal is 89,7 KB. Generally it is known that access speed decreases when the size exceeds 25 KB.

Both government portals display similar characteristics regarding navigability. The users could be provided with navigation tips that would facilitate browsing on the portal.

As the research carried out between 15 August and 30 August 2006 has shown, the British government portal has been updated daily. In contrast, the Turkish government portal has not been updated for a long time. The portal still includes activities organized in 2004 and 2005.

In Altavista, one of the most commonly used search engine in the world, 1,370,000 links were found for the British government portal (www.direct.gov.uk), whereas only 3350 links were displayed for the Turkish government portal (www.turkiye.gov.tr). As these statistical data put forth, visibility of the British government portal on the internet is higher.

Conclusion

Advancements in information and communication technologies have brought forth significant alterations also in the field of public administration, and led the world to adopt a new application called e-government where public services are delivered in an electronic environment. All the countries in the world are presently showing significant efforts for becoming e-governments.

This research focused on the e-government applications of Britain and Turkey, which have dissimilar historical backgrounds and embody different levels of socio-economic development. Government portals of both countries were comparatively analysed between 15 August and 30 August 2006. Research finding have clearly revealed that Britain has covered a significant distance in e-government applications when compared to Turkey. As of today, almost all public services in Britain are delivered through internet. Government portal of Britain was established after the realization of important projects in e-government applications and serious attempts in this field. As a matter of fact, e-government activities in Turkey were initiated as the consequence of the negotiations with the European Union. There are several ongoing projects and applications to be accomplished within this framework. Yet, it is likely to say that Turkey is still at the initial stages of the process of transformation to e-government. In the light of this fact, it would be more accurate to evaluate Turkey's current government portal as a developing formation.

According to the "Global E-Government Readiness Report" published by the United Nations in 2005 (Online), Britain took 4th place in e-government readiness with 0,8777 points, while Turkey took 60th place with 0,4960 points.

Democratisation and socio-economic development levels of Britain and Turkey are determining factors in the digital divide between these countries in e-government applications. E-government applications of Britain, which has a rooted democratic background, have been shaped and performed from the beginning in accordance with the opinions and suggestions of citizens and private sectors. On the other hand, e-government applications in Turkey, which has a conservative and centralist government structure, have been undertaken within the scope of negotiations with the EU and with lesser focus on delivering service to citizens, and they have been carried out in this direction.

Socio-economic development levels of countries determine their facility to acquire information and communication technologies. Successful e-government applications require high cost information and communication technologies. At the same time, citizens should have the necessary technical equipments for an easy and smooth access to e-government services. The population using internet services in Britain constitute 62,9% (37,800,000) of the expected population as of 2006 (60,139, 274), whereas only 13,7% (10,220,000) of the expected population in Turkey (74,709,412) have the facilities to use internet (Internet World Stats, online).

Consequently, the process of transition to e-government, which has led to a revolution in public administration, is a multidimensional and comprehensive one that is shaped in line with each country's own structural conditions. In this process, it is significant that countries use their limited means systematically and profitably, prepare and put into use pilot projects, maximize the coordination between public institutions and organizations, and educate citizens to this end. In every step of this process citizens' expectations and demands should be given priority keeping in mind that e-government project is realized primarily for citizens.

APPENDIX

SCORING SYSTEM: E-GOVERNMENT PORTAL SURVEY

Functions

Information Provision

Additive index--1 point assigned for each item present (0-10)

Organisational history

Structure

Values/ideology

Documents

Media releases

Event Calendar

Conference Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Privacy Policy

Article Archive or Library

Services

1 point for each service present (0-n)

Networking

Ordinal index (0-5)

0 = no links; 1 = 1-10; 2 = 11-20; 3 = 21-50; 4 = 51-100; 5 = +100.

Participation

Cumulative index 0--n (2 ordinal indices and two count)

0penness (0--n) Count of email contacts.

Feedback index (0-3) Ordinal (1) email address on the portal; (2) email address explicitly focused on soliciting comments; (3) an online form to submit views offered.

Opinion Poll (0--n) Number of opinion polls offered.

Interaction index (0-4) Ordinal (1) games/ gimmicks to play; (2) bulletin board or guestbook to post views; (3) chat room for real-time discussion; (4) opportunity for online debate with leader/senior organisation figures.

Delivery

Glitz Factor

Cumulative index (0-6) Comprised two additive indices

Homepage design index 1 point for each item present (0-3)

Graphics, frames, moving ../images

Multimedia index 1 point for each item present (0-3)

Sound, video, live streaming

Access

This consists of two dimensions, access in principle and access in practice.

In principle index 1 point for each item present (0-5)

no frames option/ text only option (entire site)

text only documents to download and print WAP/PDA 'wireless' enabled foreign language translation blind/visually impaired software

In practice

size of home page in Kb (>25 slows site loading time significantly)

Navigability

Additive index--1 point for each item present (0--n)

Navigation tips

No. of search engines

Home page icon on lower level pages

Fixed menu bar on lower level pages

Site map/index

Freshness

Ordinal index (0-6)

Updated daily (6); 1-2 days (5); 3-7 days

(4); every two weeks (3); monthly (2); 1-6 months

(1); + 6 months (0)

Visibility

Number of links in (calculated with search engine, e.g. Altavista link:www.conservatives.com)

References

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Onur OKSUZ ([dagger])

([dagger]) This study was first presented at a symposium entitled "Information, Communication and Society," which was held at the University of York in England on 20-22 September, 2006

Research Assistant, Department of Journalism, University of Ege, Izmir, Turkey
Table 1: Functions of Government Portals in Britain and Turkey *

 Information Services Networking Participation
 Provision

BRITAIN 8 12 5 7
TURKEY 4 5 3 3
Range 0-10 0-n 0-5 0-n

Table 2: Style and Delivery of Government Portals in Britain
and Turkey *

 Glitz Factor Access Navigability Freshness

BRITAIN 4 5 3 6
TURKEY 1 2 2 1
Range 0-6 0-5 0-n 0-6

* Sources: Government Portal of Britain (www.direct.gov.uk) and
Government Portal of Turkey (www.turkiye.gov.tr), 15-30 August 2006.
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Author:Oksuz, Onur
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Date:Jun 22, 2007
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