E-Commerce: 'Dangerous Liaison' for Public Sector

Electronic commerce is the key to self-service government and a threat to conventional tax and revenue systems for state and local government.

Those ideas were at the core of discussions at last week's Summit onGovernance in the Technological Millennium in Chapel Hill, N.C.The meeting, co-sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo),the International City/County Management Association, the National Leagueof Cities and Public Technologies Inc., was attended by 100 keyleaders from state and local government to assess the impact oftechnology on the public sector.

At the meeting, the leaders discussed key trends that will define the government of the future, including integrated service delivery, seamless and self-service government, effective outsourcing and the challenges these trends pose to state and local governments, especially in terms of tax structures and revenue streams.

"The generations that are growing up now are growing up using computers," said Tom Goodman, NACo director of public affairs. "Cities and counties need to be aware that they have to get into the same age and focus as these young people [and] to use technology to...connect them into government."

Another key element discussed at length was the idea that government needs to be flexible in its pursuit of technology. "Technology changes on a daily basis. We need to understand and deal with that in a positive way to make government more effective," Goodman said.

Following the meeting, NACo pledged to assume a leadership role in the planning, development, coordination and dissemination of technological governance.

Other possible next steps include an intergovernmental conference on technology to clarify what cities and counties can do to more fully integrate technology into their day-to-day operations.

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