United Nations E-Readiness Survey contemplates the following stages of E-governance as to the online presence of Governments worldwide:
1. Emerging Presence – The Stage I i.e. Emerging presence considers online availability of limited and basic information. A basic online presence of an e-government involves an official website and few WebPages. Links to ministries and departments of Central Government, regional/local Government may or may not be available. The website at this stage may also have some archived information such as the head of states’ messages or the constitution. However at this stage most of the information remains static without there being any options for citizens.
2. Enhanced presence – The Stage II contemplated by UN is Enhanced presence of the Government online. At this stage the Government provides more public information resources such as policies of the Government, laws, regulations, reports, newsletters. This may also be downloadable at this stage. This stage may allow users to search the information within the documents available online. A help and a sitemap feature may also be provided on the website to make navigation of the website simpler. At this stage though there are more number of documents available online, the navigation of the website is still not sophisticated and is unidirectional. There are no interactivity at this stage as the information is only flowing towards the citizens rather than also from citizens to Government.
3. Interactive presence – The Stage III of Interactive presence considers Governments to initiate interactivity in their websites. It involves availability of online services of the government to enhance convenience of the consumer. This will include downloadable forms and applications for payment of bills, taxes and renewal of licenses. Government Websites at this stage would have audio and video capability to increase the interactivity with the citizens. At this stage the government officials would be able contacted via email, fax, telephone and post. The website would be updated regularly to keep the information current and up to date for the public.
4. Transactional presence – The Stage IV i.e. Transactional presence allows two-way interaction between the citizens and Government. It includes options such as paying taxes, applying for ID cards, birth certificates, passports, license renewals and other similar C2G interactions by allowing the citizen to submit forms and applications online 24/7. The citizens at this stage will be able to pay for relevant public services, such as motor vehicle violation, taxes, fees for postal services through their credit, bank or debit card. Providers of goods and services are able to bid online for public contacts via secure links.
5. Networked presence – The Stage V as contemplated by UN Survey is ‘Networked Presence’ which represents the most sophisticated level in the online e-government initiatives. It can be characterized by an integration of G2G, G2C and C2G interactions. The government at this stage encourages citizen participation, online participatory decision-making and is willing and able to involve the society in a two-way open dialogue. Through interactive features such as the web comment form, and innovative online consultation mechanisms, the government will actively solicits citizens’ views on public policy, law making, and democratic participatory decision making. At this stage of E-governance the integration of the public sector agencies with full cooperation and understanding of the concept of collective decision-making, participatory democracy and citizen empowerment as a democratic right, is initiated.