Fertile grounds for e-government service developments

2009. 02. 01.

The increasing number of internet users in Hungary as well as innovations in the area of e-government finally bore fruit in 2008: the integration of various e-government systems under a single comprehensive portal, called Ügyfélkapu, was a major step toward the creation of a harmonized electronic public administration framework. The monthly report of GKIeNET – T-Home – T-Mobile points out that the launch of these services reflects substantial improvements in Hungary.

In 2008, magyarorszag.hu, the electronic government portal, had 600 thousand visitors a day on average. This means that the electronic government center has 15-20 million visitors on a monthly average.  The number of registered users  in the current online system totaled almost 740 thousand at year-end 2008, although this number is somewhat higher than the number of actual users. One of the most popular services is the collection of current regulations, but tax-related downloads also generate over a million visits every month, closely followed in volume by online services pertaining to health care, pensions and customs. The fact that more than 540 thousand of the 4.4. million tax forms (for the year 2007) were filed online in 2008 clearly demonstrates the popularity of the electronic tax filing system.  The percentage of people filing taxes electronically varies greatly by region, but in communities in the southern part of the Great Plain generally over 15% take advantage of this option.

Figure 1.  Individuals filing taxes electronically  as a percentage of all registered permanent residents of a community– 2008 data (for the 2007 tax year)

Source:     Hungarian Tax and Financial Control Administration (APEH), based on tax records prior to May 12, 2008. GKIeNET – T-Home – T-Mobile production

67% of all local governments listed as having computer access in GKIeNET’s 2008 survey on local governments have their own websites (68% of those with internet access, and 64% of all local governments), totaling some 2000 local government websites. Website penetration increased substantially among local governments with computer access, compared with 40% recorded in 2004.  As far as online services are concerned, it is a promising sign that practically 100% of townships have their own websites. Approximately 9.4-9.5 million people live in local government districts that have their own websites.

Local governments in Hungary are required to handle approximately 3,800 different services, of which about 2,600-2,800 are suitable for online management. A number of special services, for example refugee applications, cannot realistically be handled over the internet beyond the first steps.

There are various levels of online services, ranging from the availability of information about procedures in citizen services, through online access to official forms, online filing, to entirely paperless services in certain areas, where official documents are not only returned electronically but are also sent to citizens over the internet. 35% of local governments with websites provided information on their services via websites in 2008, reflecting a significant increase from 12% in 2005. This rate is lower in the category of villages (28%), while the rate is above the average in the category of townships (47%), 69% in the category of towns, and 60% in the category of towns and districts with county status. In 2008 there was a total of 720 local government websites in Hungary that contained descriptions of the services provided, with an average of 17 individual services per site. 24% of local government websites offer the option of downloading forms and documents, totaling 500 sites countrywide. However, entirely paperless services are provided by very few websites, by approximately 1% of  all local governments that are present on the internet.
In 2008 59% of the adult population used walk-in services at government agencies  or authorities, compared with 12% taking advantage of online services.

Figure 2. Percentage of citizens taking advantage of online services at government agencies and public institutions

Source: GKIeNET – T-Home – T-Mobile, 2008

Walk-in visits most frequently take place at citizens’ service centers (okmányiroda): almost one-third (31%) of the population visited one or more of these offices in 2008, and a slightly lower rate turned to local government offices. In terms of online services, Hungarian citizens most frequently use those provided by the  Hungarian Tax and Financial Control Administration (5%), while 3% take advantage of online services at public utilities. The number of transactions accomplished per visit via the internet was generally higher than during in-person visits and required a significantly shorter time, too.  These findings clearly underline the advantages of online services, which are also beneficial to the entire economy.

Background information
GKI, in cooperation with T-Mobile, has published a quarterly research summary titled “Report on the Internet Economy” since 2001, containing comprehensive analyses on the progress of the internet economy. The publication has been revised in 2008, with each new quarterly issue designed to focus on a specific topic. There will be three concise briefings for the press and for interested parties based on each quarterly issue, summarizing the key findings of the quarterly reports. A total of three press releases will be sent out in each quarter, which will also be available on the website of GKIeNET.