Egovernment needs overhaul

Getting the best out of electronic government will demand anextensive rethink of business processes among government agencies,going far beyond a simple agency responsibility versusall-of-government responsibility, says Jane Fountain, director ofthe 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 collaborationamong agencies, but blurs the lines of traditional autonomy andcreates difficulties in dividing the expenses of a jointdevelopment among participating agencies she says.

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

Rethinking of citizen-government interaction starts with theprovision of information and this has to be in readily digestibleformat. Fountain showed sample maps of such data as vacant homes,unfilled potholes and violations of regulations about exposure tolead from paint. Not only are the areas needing attentionhighlighted, but the maps can be displayed as a time series tocheck whether the problems in certain districts are growing ordiminishing.

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

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

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

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