One government, on the Web
- By Gonza Kirksey, Rich Kellett
- May 04, 2000
The fact that the American public has so eagerly embraced the wide, wide
world of the Internet portends the acceptance of the World Wide Web in defining
people's day-to-day relationships to government.
A huge cultural shift will be driven by increasingly knowledgeable citizens
as they chip away or, rather, "click away" at accessing the government
services that affect their daily lives.
The Internet already is playing an important role in the political process.
Look no further than these political Web portals to get a feel for how the
Internet will change governance:
But just what is governance, and how does it relate to the Internet?
Webster's defines governance as (1) the act, process, or power of governing
and (2) the state of being governed.
But President Clinton on Dec. 17, 1999, issued two memorandums that together
provide a framework that defines "governance" in today's Internet environment: Electronic Government and Use of Information Technology to Improve Our Society.
Those presidential documents recognize the great strides that agencies have
made in making information available on their Web sites. However, as noted
in Clinton's electronic government memorandum, much more needs to be done
to provide "information and services in a way that meets people's needs."
There is an intensity of effort among all levels of government to get information
and services online. Even the Supreme Court
went online recently.
Online offerings will continue to expand, but such efforts should not stop
at agency boundaries.
People will drive a coordinated response from local, state and federal government
by the way they integrate information and knowledge across previously stovepiped
domains. The political portals cited above provide the example for government
sites: They emphasize topics, provide citizens a forum and show people the
way to reach multiple layers of government.
The business strategy for a government Web site should include ways to link
to other government Web sites. The first step is to create simple links.
The follow-on is to build these links into an integrated response from government
that will be part of the definition of world-class service.
Now is the time to begin the building process that will become the day-to-day
work of the federal Web organization: coordinating material across multiple
Kirksey is a senior program analyst at the General Services Administration's
Emerging IT Policies Division. Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of the Federal Webmasters Forum and director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies Division.