Americans Get Info From the Government on the Web, But Handle Issues on the Phone

Americans Get Info From the Government on the Web, But Handle Issues on the Phone

New research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, shows that 97 million adult Americans, or 77% of Internet users, took advantage of e-gov in 2003. This represented a growth of 50% from 2002. At the same time, however, citizens said they are more likely to deal with government by telephone or in-person visits. 22% of Americans who contact government use more than one means to do it, with the telephone most likely to the first option chosen.

The current limits of e-government have to do with people's preferences, technological assets, and the variety of problems people bring to government, not all of which lend themselves to e-gov solutions. Of the 54% of Americans who contacted government in the past year, the telephone or in-person visits were preferred to the Web or email by a 53% to 37% margin.

Traditional means of contacting government are even more strongly preferred by those who have a disability. Just 40% of Americans with disabilities have access to the Internet, compared to 63% of the overall population. Those with disabilities prefer contacting the government by telephone or in person rather than over the Web or email by a 65% to 15% margin.

30% of Internet users have emailed a government official in order to try to influence policy or change a politician's position on a law. Half of all Internet users and 59% of online users with broadband connections at home say that the Internet has helped their relationship with government.

"When citizens think about a tool to contact government, they have a Swiss Army knife in mind," said Senior Researcher John B. Horrigan of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and principal author of the report. "People want multiple means at hand when they want or need to turn to government. The Internet's main benefit is arming people with more information"

The report concludes that 63% of Americans who contact government reported that they were successful in addressing the issue that prompted the contact and 76% say they were "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with the outcome of their last dealing with government.

You can find out more here.

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