Are government internet portals evolving towards more interaction, participation, and collaboration? Revisiting the rhetoric of e-government among municipalities
Type of work: Article (academic)
Scholars and practitioners argue that the most important interactions between citizens and government happen at the local level. These relationships could become closer and more frequent with the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). In fact, portals could be seen not only as channels for providing government information and services, but also as powerful tools to exchange information and knowledge between different social actors and government entities and to enable participation in collective decision-making efforts about important public affairs. For instance, social media and other Web 2.0 tools could provide new electronic channels for these interactions through their inclusion in local government portals. This paper argues that although important modifications to the organizational and institutional frameworks would be necessary, the potential for local electronic governance through networks of government and non-government actors via internet portals is clearly present. However, a very important first step would be the inclusion of more interaction, participation, and collaboration mechanisms in government portals. Similar to previous efforts with data from the U.S., this paper describes the results of a recent assessment of local government portals in Mexico. The conclusion is that progress toward citizen engagement is slow in local governments and there are very few efforts to increase interaction, participation, and collaboration channels on their portals. Most of them are still following the vision of information and services providers and a local electronic governance model is still in its very initial stages. It seems that e-government in municipalities is still more rhetoric and less reality, at least in some countries.