E-gov and inequality in public participation

Despite e-government initiatives, most agency decisions are made without public participation, according to Cary Coglianese’s blog on the University of Pennsylvania Law School website

Coglianese, the director of the Penn Program on Regulation, studied the topic and concluded, “Contrary to prevailing predictions, empirical research shows that e-rulemaking makes little difference: citizen input remains typically sparse.”

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Adriel Hampton

A case of, ‘If you build it, they won’t come?’ … On a related note, there was an interesting discussion at CityCampSF this month about how public affairs and communications workers, the outreach leads for agencies and departments, are the first to go in budget cuts. Same with the mayoral and legislative aides who serve a similar function.

Michele Costanza

Without having researched the topic myself, has the penn Program on Regulation done any research on whether it is more of a “usability” divide or an “empowerment divide” more than one of limited access? Jacob Nielsen, considered an expert on usability, wrote this about the digital divide, which a decade or so ago meant differences in access.

I tend to agree with Nielsen’s assertions that lower literacy rates and the higher readability level of most websites could be posing obstacles for full public participation. Another usability issue is making the sites easier for senior citizens. Nielsen refers to low participation rates from the general population as an “empowerment” divide more than a digital divide.