Policy would give agencies standards for developing Web-based services
California is readying a set of recommendations designed to give local agencies
common "metrics and measurements" for launching Internet-based and e-government
California chief information officer Elias Cortez called the policy a "blueprint
for electronic government" that would help state agencies roll out electronic
government services using a common set of information management approaches
and protocols. A draft of the policy will be available by July 1.
Cortez, speaking at a panel discussion on e-government at the Government
Technology Conference West in Sacramento, said the policy was inspired by
work done by California and its commercial vendors to solve last year's
Year 2000 emergency.
The "silver lining" of the Year 2000 bug, he said, was the resulting collaboration
between government and private industry that forged a solution to the crisis.
In a similar vein, Cortez said he wants the information technology industry
and the state to collaborate on building a model for electronic government
The blueprint might include, for example, guidance that agencies complete
business process re-engineering before launching World Wide Web services — or it might suggest basic approaches to Web site navigation, Cortez said.
Solving underlying service delivery problems before launching electronic
services should be the first priority of agencies, Cortez said. "Here we
have a technology that can truly enable us," he said, referring to the Internet,
"but we're still using the old business rules."
Without attending to the root management problems, the state risks producing
"the same old hamburger with an e-government wrapper," he said.
Cortez also emphasized the need to maintain equal services for those without
access to new Internet applications. "It's just as important that we invest
in the in-line if we are going to invest in online," he said. "We will move
forward [toward e-government] but we will do it fairly and equitably."
Elsewhere at the conference, the issues of privacy, the rate of business
change and e-commerce filled the panel discussions.
In a discussion of the effect of the Internet on the privacy of public records,
city of Tucson chief information officer Todd Sander said the Internet had
made it much easier to find and access information that the public was willing
to entrust to government, thus rendering such information even more sensitive.
"Information may have been considered private and now it's much easier to
find," he said. "Hardware and software are defining the rules before the
law has a chance to catch up."
John O'Looney, a professor with the Institute of Government at the University
of Georgia, called most people "privacy pragmatists," who were willing to
exchange data about themselves for something they might consider of high
benefit, provided they had a "trust relationship" with the information holder.
About a quarter of people are "privacy fundamentalists," he added, and another
quarter are "privacy unconcerned."
Governments run into problems, panelists said, when using public information
"for a purpose other than the purpose for which it was originally intended."
In a discussion on the pace of change in governments, Tom Carroll, a consultant
with Andersen Consulting, said citizens' expectations that local governments
are Web-enabled are rising faster than many governments can satisfy. He
cited his own experience trying to obtain a fishing license via the Web.
"I had an expectation that I could do it online and I couldn't, so we are
experiencing a level of frustration. Citizens are becoming less and less
Citizens have no particular use for political boundaries that limit their
access to services, such as the divisions between county, city or state
government responsibilities. "Do citizens really care about counties and
school districts?" he asked. "No, what they really care about is finding
someone too put out the fire."
Brian Moura, assistant city manager for the city of San Carlos, Calif.,
warned that electronic commerce often raises more questions for state and
local government than it answers. "You may find yourself cut on the bleeding
edge of technology if you blindly roll down the path of e-government," he
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