This paper focuses on the role of public sector in shaping the competitiveness of national economic systems and proposes an alternative measure of the quality of public administrations based on the availability of public e-services. Using the Eiburs-Taips database, which allows a comparative analysis of the diffusion of four typologies of public e-services (eGovernment, Intelligent Transport Systems, eHealth, and eProcurement), different patterns of performance are highlighted across PAs at the national and local (city) levels in EU15. The use of novel e-service based indicators confirms that Mediterranean countries, including Italy, lag behind the best performers of Northern Europe. Over and above national differences, the degree of specialisation in service categories largely varies also within countries and across large cities in Europe, suggesting that public policies should be fine tuned in this respect. Italy exhibits a rather weak performance overall, and in the areas of infomobility and eProcurement in particular, which appear to be the most urgent areas wherein a competitive gap must be filled relative to other EU countries.
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