Editorial: A global view

In a recent editorial, we made the case for more innovation in the area of e-government. That innovation, we argued, should not come from White House officials, but from federal employees out in the field. Let's take that argument a little further.

This week's cover story, "The 411 on e-gov," provides a sampling of just how far federal agencies might go to find new ideas. The article highlights 10 Web sites people can access for white papers, case studies and other research related to e-government policies and technology.

The list includes several sites maintained by state and local government organizations and university-affiliated research centers. But some of the most valuable resources are found overseas.

Govtalk (www.govtalk.gov.uk), for example, was created by the United Kingdom's Office of the e-Envoy. Visitors will find a host of documents that formed the foundation for the U.K.'s e-government strategy. Another British site, www.idea.gov.uk, offers a comprehensive view of local

e-government activities in the United Kingdom.

For years, numerous U.S. officials have traveled abroad to take part in international conferences, and their European counterparts have attended meetings here looking for new ideas. Now might be the time to increase that cross-Atlantic collaboration.

Having several years of experience testing and running e-government systems, officials from the United States, Great Britain and other countries should increase their collective wisdom by exchanging lessons learned, best practices and fresh ideas.

This exchange should not be limited to the upper echelons of government, nor should it focus on high-level policy issues. Instead, the

e-government leaders in each country should organize pan-Atlantic working groups that bring together subject matter experts in particular areas of interest, such as e-authentication or biometrics.

They might even coordinate the development of pilot projects so they can share notes on methodology and results.

Arguably, e-government lacks the compelling national security and economic incentives that have fostered other forms of international cooperation. But perhaps all that is needed is some leadership from some enterprising individuals to make it a reality.

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