51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
This paper offers critical aspects on this ongoing development within the Swedish municipalities with the strategic use of ICT , for the purpose to create a digital government and to making public administration more citizen-oriented, efficient, and responsive to the needs of the public. It aims to discuss incentives for local planning towards citizen-centric public e-government based on lessons and critical aspects learned from case studies of the implementation of public contact center implementation within Swedish municipalities. A recent Swedish governmental action plan stresses the importance of using ICT in order to effectively develop the Swedish public administration with the aim to "make it as simple as possible for as many as possible" leading to improved accessibility for the citizens. This has led to that more and more public contact centers have been established in Swedish municipalities. The action plan also stresses that the needs of the users, i.e. the citizens, always should be the starting-point of e-service development. However, there are groups of citizens, even in the mature information society of Sweden, who are excluded from having access to computers and the Internet and do not have the competence to use them. They have difficulties or do not feel comfortable with this way of handling public services - the digital divide dilemma. Therefore there are methodological as well as democratic challenges when identifying the needs of the complex diversity of different citizen groups who require different types of services from the municipality. The final part of the paper addresses the issue of a tentative framework for identifying the needs of the public e-services to support decision-making and service improvement for the planning of municipal e-governance aiming at sustainable planning for the local municipalities' future e-government.