The 411 on e-gov
- By John Moore
- May 10, 2004
E-government has expanded worldwide and through all layers of government.
With that in mind, Federal Computer Week has compiled a list of nonfederal e-government Web sites. The 10 sites profiled offer perspectives on digital government from research organizations, academic institutions and European governing bodies.
The information available is as varied as the sources. Some sites focus on the policy foundation of e-government, and others delve into the technical infrastructure of electronic-service delivery. Case studies covering local, state, national and international initiatives abound. Readers can find profiles of projects in the Americas, Europe and Asia/Pacific Rim.
The Web sites rely on a mix of downloadable documents and online guides to deliver information, but some go beyond those traditional features. One site offers online demonstrations of e-government projects. Another allows users to submit research proposals. One United Kingdom site uses humor: It lists oddball government initiatives and invites responses through a discussion forum.
The bulk of the information on digital governance is free. Some sites sell reports or subscriptions, but there's a staggering number of studies, issue briefs and policy documents offered at no charge.
Welcome to the world of e-government.
Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.
Center for Technology in Government
Who runs it: University at Albany, State University of New York.
Mission: Center officials study information use in the public sector, conducting research on policy, management and technology issues.
The basics: This site provides an overview of the center's research endeavors, which include activities in areas such as e-government and information technology investment.
Highlights: The fruit of the center's research labors is freely available online or in the form of downloadable reports. The site's Publications section lets users browse reports alphabetically or by theme: Enabling E-Government, Collaboration and Integration, Electronic Records, Making IT Investments and Strategic Use of Information. The center's recent publications include a handbook on understanding value and risk in government IT investments and an online guide describing collaboration models for delivering government services. The site's Projects page summarizes the center's ongoing and completed projects. As with the publications, projects are organized by theme. Ongoing projects include a study of how government agencies enhanced IT in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Profiles of this study and other projects include information on scope of work, funding sources and contact information.
Digital Government Research Program
Who runs it: Digital Government Research Center, on behalf of the National Science Foundation's Digital Government Research Program.
Mission: This site houses NSF's digital government grant program, which funds research "at the intersection of computer information sciences and government information services," according to the Web site.
The basics: The site's features include an extensive calendar of e-government/IT-related events, numerous e-government links and news items, and a research project database that is searchable by criteria such as technology and government domain.
Highlights: Many Web sites provide research abstracts, but this one goes a step further: It provides project demonstrations at www.diggov.org/library/demos. The site showcases more than a dozen Digital Government Research Program projects, using Web demonstrations and video, among other techniques. Available demonstrations cover fields such as urban planning, geographic information systems and regulatory information management. Additionally, digital government papers and presentations are available in abundance via the Library tab. And for those interested in doing business with NSF, there's the FastLane e-business feature at www.diggov.org/news/grants.jsp. FastLane lets researchers prepare and submit proposals to NSF. Registration and a log-in are required.
Who runs it: National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (NECCC).
Mission: This alliance of state and local associations pursues the advancement of government e-commerce. Members include the Information Technology Association of America and the National Association of Government Archive and Records Administrators.
The basics: The site provides news items about e-government and summaries of NECCC's workgroup activities. Workgroups for 2004 include state records laws, e-payments, N-11 dialing codes, digital case laws, performance-based procurement and identity management. An E-Government Resources section was under construction at press time.
Highlights: The paper chase ends at EC3.org. Individuals seeking papers on e-government topics will find a range of documents available for download. The Web site's Publications section provides workgroup issue papers from 2000 to 2003 and white papers presented at the organization's annual conferences. Titles include "Cross-Boundary Integration: The Key to Successful E-Government" and "Maximizing Revenues and Saving Costs Through E-Government: Success Stories in the Public Sector." In addition to the free downloads, the site sells two sets of e-government essays: "21st Century Government: A Primer on Technology for Public Officials" and "21st Century Government: A Guide to Cross Boundary Collaboration."
Europe's Information Society
Who runs it: The European Union.
Mission: The Web site serves as the focal point for the European Union's IT policies and activities.
The basics: Europe's Information Society uses themes to help organize this site. The theme tabs cover areas such as Quality of Life, which features health and environment information, and Economy & Work, which includes e-business. The site also offers policy and activity pages. The latter covers European Union funding initiatives and research programs, among other subjects. News items and a list of forthcoming events are also available.
Highlights: The site contains the cornerstone documents of Europe's IT strategy. The eEurope 2005 Action Plan, available for download, outlines activities in priority areas such as broadband,
e-business, e-health and e-government. Users can also get the lowdown on Europe's industrial policy and e-commerce regulations. The site's Culture & Society tab, meanwhile, leads to the eGovernment Observatory, which is designed to help senior decision-makers track e-government trends. This service includes news and updates on e-government activities in European countries. Another resource, the eGovernment Good Practice Framework, includes a case study database organized by country, user citizen vs. business and level of government. The framework also offers a bit of self-help: The Web site publishes good practice assessment criteria for officials wishing to evaluate their e-government efforts.
Who runs it: Office of the e-Envoy, United Kingdom.
Mission: The site aims to help government and industry leaders collaborate on e-government policies and standards.
The basics: GovTalk details the United Kingdom's e-government strategy. Users can find the policy and technical documents driving that strategy. The Key Contacts feature provides an ample list of contacts for general inquiries on topics ranging from e-learning to infrastructure. The site also offers a Discussion Forum. Users must log on if they wish to contribute, but guests may read forum correspondence without having to register. Users may register at www.govtalk.gov.uk/registration/Registration.asp. Other Web site features include a scrolling ticker of U.K. government headlines.
Highlights: The Web site provides insight into how the award-winning Office of the e-Envoy tackles e-government. Particularly curious visitors can look at the technical infrastructure of the United Kingdom's approach. The site's Schemas and Standards section, for example, describes the nation's e-Government Interoperability Framework for adopting Internet and Web standards in government systems. The section also houses the U.K.'s e-Government Metadata Standard and an Extensible Markup Language schema library. The site's Policy Documents tab serves briefs on topics ranging from open-source software to security. One document of interest sets forth the U.K. government's vision for delivering services via digital television.
Who runs it: Improvement and Development Agency, United Kingdom.
Mission: IDeA helps local governments worldwide put e-government into practice.
The basics: Log-in is required for much of the Web site, which offers a comprehensive view of what local authorities, primarily in the United Kingdom, are doing in e-government. Features include a Publications section, which offers free and fee-based
reports. Documents available for purchase include "Local
e-Government Now 2004." Among the free downloads is a report containing 17 case studies of national infrastructure projects.
Highlights: The site's Knowledge tab is perhaps the site's most interesting feature. Users can find numerous local government case studies grouped into categories such as street and highway works, transforming secondary education, and child and adolescent mental health services. Interspersed throughout the Knowledge section are little gems such as an interview with a local government councillor who uses a Web log for constituent outreach and a collection of wacky, off-the-wall ideas intended to provoke discussion. The latter can be found under the Knowledge page's Brilliant or Bonkers? tab. One featured item: A Santa Clara County, Calif., Web-based service that lets residents compare housing assessments with those of their neighbors. "The gossip factor of the new service has been seized upon as a marketing tool to direct users" to other online services, the site states.
Who runs it: National Association of State Chief Information
Mission: NASCIO, which represents state CIOs and information resource executives/managers, promotes quality business practices and information management.
The basics: The public portion of the site provides an overview of the organization, conference proceedings and links to state, local and federal IT sources. The members-only section that requires log-in includes an online library of articles, issue briefs and best practices from NASCIO members. A membership application is available at www.nascio.org/howToJoin/membership_app.cfm.
Highlights: The Web site is the place to go for those who want to know who's doing what in state IT. The State Profiles section provides CIO biographies, state statistics and state government links. The Roster of Committees in the About NASCIO section lists government and industry participants in the Enterprise Architecture Working Group, Privacy Committee and Security Committee, among other groups. The site also lets users purchase the organization's reports, including the "NASCIO Compendium of Digital Government in the States." Site users can also keep tabs on public policy: The Washington Watch page offers bill summaries, hearing summaries and member testimony.
Who runs it: Public Technology Inc.
Mission: This nonprofit technology research and development organization aims to bring the benefits of technology to the local government level.
The basics: This site profiles the organization's research initiatives in areas such as citizen relationship management, enterprise geographic information systems, wireless E911 and interoperability solutions. An online store lets users purchase publications covering e-government "E-Government: Factors Affecting [Return on Investment]" is a recent title and intelligent transportation systems, among other subjects. Other features include an events calendar and IT news items from a range of publications.
Highlights: The site's more in-depth services are available through subscription or membership. Tech Monitor, for example, is a subscription-based technology advisory service that provides e-business news summaries and vendor and product assessments. Members, meanwhile, can tap discussion forums, an electronic library and a directory of local government technology solutions. Membership information is available at www.pti.org/membership.asp. Freely available services include the Searchable Information Resource on Sustainable Development, through which users can search for information on topics such as clean fuels, recycling and congestion management.
Who runs it: Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Mission: The institute explores the Internet's impact on public-sector productivity and performance.
The basics: The site offers state, national and international e-government links. Other e-government links are grouped in categories including research, academia and private sector. The Web site's Performance Measurement and Publications pages appear to be under construction.
Highlights: The institute's site is rich in case studies and best practices. Available information includes an assessment of government Web sites in 100 cities worldwide and a ranking of the top cities. The full report, authored by experts at Rutgers and South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University, is available via the Web site's Research tab. The site's Best Practices section, meanwhile, serves as the gateway to dozens of e-government case studies worldwide. E-government cases cover the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. A World Bank link leads to e-government projects in developing nations.
E-Government Project Web Site
Who runs it: The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a 30-nation group whose members discuss economic and social policy.
Mission: The project examines how governments can "best exploit information and communication technologies" to achieve public policy objectives, according to the site.
The basics: This OECD offshoot emphasizes good government and public administration reform rather than technology. As the Web site puts it, "E-Government is more about government than about 'e.'" Much of the site is about seminars, symposia and reports exploring the impact of e-government. Other features include a glossary of e-government terms. For the record, e-government is defined as "the use of information and communication technologies, and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government," according to the site.
Highlights: The OECD provides plenty of material for those curious about how other nations handle e-government. A series of papers, "E-Government: Organising for Integration," details the organizational approaches of 23 countries, which can be found via the Symposia tab. Does a given nation have a governmentwide CIO, an agency for national e-government coordination, a centralized or decentralized e-government approach? You can find out here. The Web site, in the Publications section, also provides policy briefs with titles such as "Engaging Citizens Online for Better Policy-Making" and "Checklist for e-Government Leaders." The OECD's e-government project also performs peer reviews of countries' e-government strategies, posting the resulting reports on its Web site. The first such report, "e-Government in Finland," is available now. Peer reviews on Mexico and Norway are in progress.