E-government - an exploration of the benefits and limitations for stakeholders of the revenue online service

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Mulhall, Albert
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BA (Hons) in Business Information Management
Dublin Business School
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E-Government is the application of information and communication technologies to provide people with more convenient access to Government information and services. It involves public services being made available electronically, principally over the Internet, but also through the use of other channels such as phones, kiosks, mobile devices, and interactive/digital TV. The Revenue Online Service was chosen as the focus for this study, as it is considered the jewel in the crown of the Government's information society initiative, and has garnered considerable praise both at home and overseas. An in-depth review of the literature demonstrated a lack of current research pertaining to e-government in Ireland. This fact, combined with the researcher's current work context and interest in the e-government area, formed the impetus for the study. A qualitative research design was employed in order to ascertain the opinions, views, beliefs and concerns of the various stakeholders of the revenue online service. These included the general public, tax agents, revenue management and staff. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and subsequently analysed, using the constant comparative method of Glaser and Strauss (1967). The findings which emerged, show e-government to be in a healthy state of affairs. The study participants identified many benefits and limitations of the Revenue Online Service. Positive aspects included a more efficient and effective tax administration, enhanced consumer friendliness, lack of red tape and paperwork, quicker processing of returns and repayments and improved stakeholder satisfaction. Several limitations to the system were also found, including lack of consumer access, the absence of a broadband network, security concerns and the exclusion of P.A.Y.E. workers. A major finding was the need to further develop consumer trustworthiness in e-government in order for its current and future potential to be maximised. Overall the benefits of e-government appear to outweigh the drawbacks but due care should be taken to address the legitimate concerns of the various interest groups to ensure its continued success.