State of the States: E-Gov takes center stage
- By John Monroe
- Jan 25, 2000
Information technology took its place along side such political staples as
crime, economic development and education in this year's "State of the
State" speeches delivered over the last month by the nation's governors.
Governor's across the country recognized the role of technology in
addressing those other issues. But half a dozen governor's also emphasized
the role of technology in the business of government, unveiling sweeping
initiatives to move government services online.
"The Internet, in particular, gives us an unparalleled opportunity to
re-engineer government to serve our citizens better and in a more timely
manner," said Michigan Gov. John Engler in his January 19 address.
Engler announced an executive order to launch E-Michigan, a government-wide
electronic-commerce initiative. This executive order will set up a two-year
agency to coordinate efforts throughout state government, with an emphasis
on using the Internet to ensure the government is "open for service 24
hours a day, 7 days a week."
Plans include a single state portal that will "break down a host of
traditional barriers between regions and departments, or wherever we find
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft announced a similar e-commerce initiative in his address
The Governor's Council on Electronic Commerce, chaired by state chief
information officer Greg Jackson, will develop a plan within one year to
deliver state services electronically. The council also will help agencies
post their most frequently requested forms online, to be accessible to
customers by e-mail by Dec. 31 and to have all key services available
online by 2002.
"Our quality of life involves more than just our jobs, our cities, our
environment, and our health. It also involves the time we have to spend
with each other and our families," Taft said. "State government can help
ease the time crunch by becoming more efficient and customer friendly
California also plans to build a state portal. Gov. Gray Davis is
requesting $2.1 millions as part of his 2000-2001 budget, with plans to
spend up to $90 million over five years to build the site.
But while the state's Department of General Services begins developing the
portal, California is stepping up online services across the board. Plans
include a "One-Stop E-Business Center," which will bring together
information and services from over three dozen state departments and a
larger number of local and federal agencies that regulate business in
Other services in the works include online vehicle registration, by early
spring 2000. The state also looks to boost the number of people filing
income taxes electronically. The governor's budget includes $260,000 to
market the e-filing option to tax payers, with aims of hitting 2 million
users this year and 2.5 million next year.
Regulating the Regulators
However, online services involve more than buying technology. In some
cases, states are finding they need to change their laws and regulations to
enable services to move online. Two states announced plans to address this
In conjunction with a plan to move state licensing online, New Mexico Gov.
Gary Johnson said he will ask all boards and commissions to "review and
revamp the rules and regulations that govern the licensing process."
The goal will be to shorten the amount of time it takes from the date of
application filing to the issuance of a license. "The more efficient we can
make this process the more we act as partners to the industries we
regulate," Johnson said.
New York is taking a similar approach. Gov. George Pataki has directed the
state's Office of Regulatory Reform to assume the responsibility of filing
permits and getting them approved. That way, people applying for businesses
can go online and fill out a single form, at which point the regulatory
office will ensure the information gets to where it's needed in the
"If someone is going to invest in New York, we shouldn't punish them by
forcing them to fill out the same information ten times on ten different
forms for ten different bureaucracies," Pataki said. "So if you're looking
to start a new business in New York or expand an existing one, you'll
simply log on to the Internet and fill out one form, instead of five, ten