The access of local governments to information and communications technology in Hungary (Summary for the press) How far are we from e-government?

  • November 19, 2004
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Internet penetration

Local governments have come a long way in terms of participation in the internet economy: internet penetration rose from 57% in the fall of 2001 to 75% by early 2003. There has been a similar increase in the rate at which local governments have their own websites: the number of municipalities with their own websites is been up seven percentage points compared with the rate of 23% a year and a half ago. This translates into approximately 220 local government websites altogether. This trend is likely to continue, as one-third of the local governments indicated that they had plans to establish their own presence on the web.

Local government websites

At the same time, the survey of GKIeNET highlights that the quantitative growth in local government sites has not been accompanied by qualitative improvement as of yet. The majority (78%) of the established websites limit their contents to basic information, which is infrequently refreshed.  18% of local governments with websites say that they refresh contents at least once a week, and only a small number of sites allow access to government services (e.g. downloading or submitting forms).

Computer use

Local governments in Hungary had a total of 38 thousand computers in May 2003, of which 40% have internet capabilities. 86% of administrative workers at local governments work on computers, but only 34% have web or e-mail access. Three-quarters of high-ranking officials  work on computers, of which 50% have internet access.

IT training

Even though local governments made it possible for 17% of their management staff to participate in information technology training, only 9% took advantage of in 2002. Similarly, despite the fact that local governments made arrangements for 28% of the administrative staff to receive IT training, only 10% did actually take part in training programs.

In summary, despite the rapid progress over the past few years, local governments in Hungary are currently far away from the concept of electronic government (one out of a thousand), which requires adequate infrastructural background and new skills from administrators to continue their work electronically.