When the Government On-Line initiative began to take shape in recent years, Richard Haworth, an Assistant Deputy Minister at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), faced some major obstacles.
“Since GOL was initially a transaction-oriented activity, and NRCan is primarily in the knowledge generation business, we were not a simple fit,” he said. “However, we now seem to have made the point that the role of government is to generate knowledge on the basis of which to make decisions – for example make and implement policy.
“NRCan generates knowledge as the basis for making decisions regarding the sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources. I believe that this needs to be part of GOL, and that service transformation will occur as a consequence.”
As part of the ongoing effort to generate knowledge, Haworth and NRCan are working on implementing a Science and Technology Cluster to provide access to relevant data and information. The project seeks verified, accessible information that can be manipulated using basic tools and provide users – whether public or private sector – with the information needed to make decisions for which they are responsible.
“The principal problem will be to convince all potential users to make their data accessible,” Haworth said. “This will only come through demonstration of success by initial users. We need to lead by example.”