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Abstract

Recent studies indicate that e-government initiatives have not held their promise of improving government services. The majority of efforts to benchmark e-government have had central government as the unit of analysis. This study employs the MeGAP-3 (The Municipal E-Government Assessmen Project) assessment tool to assess the status of municipal e-government in the Agder region in southern Norway, an area with high Internet penetration and mature information and communication technology (ICT) use. MeGAP-3 proved effective in providing a relative positioning of these Norwegian municipalities, but we argue that country specific assessment indicators are needed to complement the tool and enable cross-country comparisons by relative scores. Surprisingly, the results show that the sophistication of local government web sites was fairly low. A series of qualitative interviews were conducted to explore the factors that shape the development of municipal egovernment. The evidence suggests that the dominant stakeholder in development is the bureaucratic administration rather than citizens or politicians. This group has a strong focus on internal efficiency and cost reduction. The majority of respondents report cost reduction as the major driver behind egovernment development. However we also identified a more citizen-centric approach that stresses the need for improving access and service quality for citizens. The study outlines a number of areas where further research will be needed to fully understand the development of e-government in Norway.

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