Pew Internet’s “Government Online” Link Round-Up

Summary: the internet gives citizens new paths to government services and information.

Fully 82% of internet users (representing 61% of all American adults) looked for information or completed a transaction on a government website in the twelve months preceding this survey. Some of the specific government website activities in which Americans take part include:

  • 48% of internet users have looked for information about a public policy or issue online with their local, state or federal government
  • 46% have looked up what services a government agency provides
  • 41% have downloaded government forms
  • 35% have researched official government documents or statistics
  • 33% have renewed a driver’s license or auto registration
  • 30% have gotten recreational or tourist information from a government agency
  • 25% have gotten advice or information from a government agency about a health or safety issue
  • 23% have gotten information about or applied for government benefits
  • 19% have gotten information about how to apply for a government job
  • 15% have paid a fine, such as a parking ticket
  • 11% have applied for a recreational license, such as a fishing or hunting license

Report OverviewFull Report (with PDF download available)

“We don’t trust government, but we like government websites” by Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica
“Pew Report: Citizens turning to Internet for government data, policy and services” by Alex Howard at O’Reilly Radar
Government Use of Social Media – “In Addition to,” Not “In Lieu of” by Steve Radick

This is all great news for eGovernment, open government, Gov 2.0, etc.  Alex Howard’s article probably hits the most points and provides the best overall summary.  To summarize his summary:

  • People are looking for government data — 40% of adults have searched for data about the business of government.
  • The consumption of government social media is growing — 33% are using social tools to get information about the business of government.
  • Government is increasingly participatory — 23 percent have participated in a broader online debate over government issues.
  • Users are overwhelmingly successful — “a sizable majority of online visitors were able to accomplish their goals.”
  • Use of the web for government transactions growing rapidly — see the bullets at the top of this post.
    • People are visiting government websites to do things.
    • However, among the general population, the telephone remains the number one way people prefer to contact government.
  • Search is king — 44 percent of online users start with a search engine.