Evaluating e-Government: learning from the experiences of two UK local authorities
Business and Public Management
Part of the remit of public sector management includes planning and reflecting on capital expenditure on new technology. With this in mind, the role that information systems play in supporting improvements in e-government service delivery to stakeholder groups continues to attract much attention. The authors of this paper seek to define the scope and role that information systems evaluation plays within the public sector. In particular, the authors assess whether public sector organizations might benefit from the use of established ex-ante evaluation techniques, when applied to analyse the impact of e-government information systems. Following a comprehensive review of the normative literature, an initial conceptual framework for public sector information systems evaluation is proposed, which is then empirically explored within two local government authorities. The conceptual framework is then revised by using the structured case approach, which is dependent on an iterative research cycle where triangulated data are elicited. This then supports the emergence of new concepts during each research cycle that leads to the view that information systems evaluation in the public sector is a process of experiential and subjective judgement, which is grounded in opinion and world views. This leads the authors to challenge the appropriateness of traditional modes of investment appraisal when applied in the public sector. The finalized framework embraces investment decisions, evaluation methods, culture and structure, as well as post hoc evaluation. It emphasizes the importance of situated, interpretive user assessments in evaluating e-government investments.