72% of all local governments had their own websites by summer 2009, with the Counties of Győr-Moson-Sopron, Csongrád and Hajdú-Bihar being the top performers based on criteria including the quality of e-services offered by local government websites, the usability of online services, as well as population, the July 2009 Report on the Internet Economy by GKIeNET – T-Home – T-Mobile reveals. Budapest stands out among all regions with the highest average number of electronic services available via local government websites.
Ad-free local government websites provide an optimal platform for publishing general public information and data, in addition to offering faster and easier services and transactions. As a result of significant developments throughout the country over the recent years, a growing number of local government websites became available with more and more types of services, which constitutes a key element of the concept of government as a provider of services. In the summer of 2009, 72% of all local governments had their own home pages (74% of all offices that have computer access), totaling 2,300 websites (based on a survey conducted in June 2009). Basically 100% of townships have websites, indicating that Hungary’s public administration is not lagging behind in the area of e-government developments. The growth in website penetration has been generated primarily by townships, of which only 32% had had home pages back in 2004. The total area covered by local governments with websites has a population of approximately 9.5 million.
In June 2009 more than one-third of those local governments that operated home pages kept track of the number of online visitors, while 7% conducted comprehensive analyses of all online events taking place on their sites. There are significant differences in visitor trends among settlement types: while websites of townships were visited by an average of 10-20 thousand people, the home pages of county-equivalent independent cities and districts had over 300 thousand visitors on average.
Local government with websites rarely provide full spectrum online services for the time being; as low as 1% of all offices in this category, primarily cities and county-equivalent cities or districts, offer this level of online services. However, current developments are promising: 27% of all local governments with websites provide information on available services and transactions, 33% offer downloadable documents and forms, and 5% allow the electronic submission of downloaded forms.
Local government home pages can be divided into four categories based on the level of services offered via their sites:
Local governments offering interaction-type services as a minimum via their websites cover a population of approximately 7.1 million. Tax-related electronic services at any level are the most frequently available applications, seen at 33% of local governments with websites. The following figure illustrates the average level of electronic services (on a scale of 1 to 4 as defined above) at local governments with websites, adjusted for population.
Figure 1. Average level of electronic services at local governments with websites, adjusted for population
The map clearly shows that the Counties of Győr-Moson-Sopron, Csongrád and Hajdú-Bihar outperform other areas as far as the level of services is concerned, while Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County is lagging behind.
In terms of the average number of online accessible services among local governments with own home pages, Budapest stands out with an average of 7.1 types of interaction; even the number two ranking County of Békés is well behind Budapest based on the criteria of the analysis.
Figure 2. The average number of online accessible services among local governments with websites, by county
In an effort to further e-government services, the National Development Agency is inviting public comment on the program titled “Development of Regional Public Administration and Public Service Information Systems.” The purpose of this program is to support the advancement of electronic government solutions in the seven regions of Hungary with a grant totaling 1.5 billion forints per region. Proposals can likely be submitted starting in October. This funding will increase the number of online services available at local government home pages, while gradually improving the usability of websites for citizens and businesses alike.