E-government needs overhaul

Getting the best out of electronic government will demand an extensive rethink of business processes among government agencies, going far beyond a simple agency responsibility versus all-of-government responsibility, says Jane Fountain, director of the National Center for Digital Government in Massachusetts.

Fountain visited New Zealand for a conference late last year.

ICT makes possible new and productive patterns of collaboration among agencies, but blurs the lines of traditional autonomy and creates difficulties in dividing the expenses of a joint development among participating agencies she says.

At the same time, e-government involves a full interface with the citizen; not simply providing information or services, or allowing the citizen to transact business by form-filling, but proving an opportunity for individual citizens and businesses to have an input into policy-making.

Rethinking of citizen-government interaction starts with the provision of information and this has to be in readily digestible format. Fountain showed sample maps of such data as vacant homes, unfilled potholes and violations of regulations about exposure to lead from paint. Not only are the areas needing attention highlighted, but the maps can be displayed as a time series to check whether the problems in certain districts are growing or diminishing.

Hugh McPhail, manager e-government policy and strategy at the SSC, commented that there were “interesting lessons about cross-agency projects.”

But there were no major lessons for the local effort, he says.

“It confirmed us in the direction we are already taking.”

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