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Thanks to the blog BiblioTICando con humor (blog bibliotecario por Diana RodrÃguez), I became aware of this paper about eGovernment in Argentina: Gobierno Electronico: donde esta parada la Argentina? by Paula Nahirnak. IF I understand this paper correctly, it has some very interesting things to say. I say IF because my understanding of it is formed by my approximate 5th grade Spanish level plus hints from Google Translate. So, if any fluent Spanish speakers would look over this six page document and let me know if I’ve gone wrong, I’d be grateful. The paper appears to focus on the delivery of government services and information by Argentina’s provincal government. A year and a half ago the provinces were given a decree by the central government to undertake electronic activities. For reasons I can’t translate well enough to understand, the authors of the article graded provinces by how well these four classes of information were web posted:
- Information regarding provincal debt.
- Provincial budgetary law.
- Information about the budget.
- Information about tax collection.
From a table it looks like performance in these categories significantly improved from 2002 to 2006, and especially after 2005. The article also references a 2005 article, Global E-Government 2005 by Darrell M. West and from what I can tell, Argentina ranted with countries like Spain, Lithuania, Korea, Iraq(!), Romania and a few others. What I find really fascinating about the article, again if I understand it correctly, is that I’m not sure who this electronic information is actually for. Page five of the article has a chart of public employees by province who have access to computer equipment. Even the top rated area, the capital of Buenos Aries, only 51% of the government’s own workers have access to computers! The median for the country seems to be 26.7%. So almost three quarters of Argentina’s government workers cannot access the web posted information from their employer. On the last page of the article is a table expressing access to home Internet connections in terms of people to one Internet connection. The capital again wins out with "just" five people per Internet connection. Nationwide average is 26 people per Internet connection and in the NEA y Litoral province, there are 83 people for every home Internet connection. So I don’t think most people at home could get much out of Argentina’s drive to put government information and services on the Web. Perhaps their citizens are going to libraries. But as I’ve said, this is MY reading. If you have a better one, please let us know in comments. But it does look like the digital divide is hard at work all over the planet. So how do we help the 30% or so of Americans here at home w/o Internet access get their government information?