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Switzerland plans online government

Swiss citizens should be better informed thanks to e-government services Keystone Archive

The Swiss authorities are aiming to introduce electronic government on the internet to give the public more streamlined access to services.

This content was published on November 4, 2001 - 14:10

An online discussion forum on the subject has been set up to allow political parties, organisations and individuals to submit opinions and suggestions for e-government.

The online forum runs until November 7, after which the government will begin building-up its online presence.

The government says it wants to exploit the benefits of having services online, with the main aim of informing citizens easily, involving them more directly in political processes, and providing direct access to federal offices.

A government strategy paper says "e-government aims to create more transparency and to boost peoples' confidence in the governmental procedures."

The Swiss government also stands to make substantial cost savings by enabling the public to get information, download forms and pay bills online.

Roughly half of Switzerland's population currently uses the Internet, with the numbers rising continuously

Voting online

One of the most important functions of the electronic initiative will be to enable expatriates to vote online. "Voting online is what will really be of greatest benefit to Swiss expats," says Alessia Radaelli of the Organisation for Swiss Expatriates.

The government initiative will be of great benefit to the Swiss expatriate community, as websites will take over administrative functions previously handled by consulates, such as queries relating to military service and social security.

Radaelli says "e-government will definitely make it easier for expatriates to get access to authorities." Websites will clarify the functions of numerous government offices.

The government says some technical hurdles still have to be overcome before the possibilities of e-government can be fully maximised. For instance, it is preparing to carry out tests to develop electronic signatures.

Another difficulty is how to make the websites user friendly, something problem which some other governments have failed to overcome.

swissinfo

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