Does E-Government Promote Accountability? A Comparative Analysis of Website Openness and Government Accountability



Under the global pressure of information technology, the adoption of web-based technologies in public administration has created a new government-and-citizen interface. However, whether e-government will unambiguously lead to a more transparent, interactive, open and hence, accountable, government remains a central question. Applying a framework of global pressure effects on bureaucratic change, this paper conducts an empirical study on website openness and accountability in fourteen countries. Even when overall accountability levels rise, the accountability gap between different national bureaucracies often remains intact as web-based technologies typically maintain or reinforce the existing practices. The question of whether e-government promotes accountability depends on what kind of bureaucracy one is referring to in the first place. In the current debate about global convergence and national divergence on the effect of globalization on public bureaucracies, the spread of e-government provides a case of convergence in practice rather than in results.