Microsoft Corp. officials have been hammering home a key theme togovernment leaders gathered this week in Lisbon: modernizing theirIT systems will provide better service to their citizens and savethem money.

The software giant is hosting hundreds of high-ranking governmentofficials at its Government Leaders Forum in Lisbon, a two-dayconference tackling topics such as the role of IT in education,government and economic growth. Microsoft wants to play a largerole in those areas.

Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and founder, is scheduled to makean announcement Wednesday afternoon around the theme of innovationin a knowledge-based economy.

Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s WorldwidePublic Sector division, told delegates here Wednesday morning thatthe company can help governments provide what it calls “seamlessservice delivery” — essentially, IT systems that allow governmentsto provide faster response to citizens and easier use for a rangeof governmental functions.

“E-government cannot only revolutionize the way services areprovided to citizens, but it can drive significant productivityefficiencies in the system itself in providing those services,”Elliott said. “Your governments recognize these opportunities, andyou’ve set some goals.”

Microsoft announced a plan earlier this week to capture governmentbusiness with its Public Services and eGovernment Strategy, part ofits Microsoft Connected Government Framework program. The plan isaimed at helping governments map out a service delivery strategywith its IT systems, focusing on identity management, customerrelationship management (CRM) and case management, along withdocument and forms management.

Elliott said e-government systems can eliminate red tape and breakthrough “mind-numbing bureaucracy.” The cost of inefficientbureaucracy is estimated at