Gore replays e-gov pitch
- By Diane Frank
- Jun 12, 2000
Vice President Al Gore last week pulled e-government out of the realm of
policy wonks and into the public domain.
In a campaign speech in North Carolina, Gore reiterated his commitment
to the policies and plans that will foster a secure, interactive electronic
government for citizens by 2003.
Gore has long encouraged agencies to expand the reach and effectiveness
of their services by using the World Wide Web, starting with the establishment
of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) in 1993.
"I will set clear goals, and I tell you today that we will measure the
performance of e-government regularly and rigorously," Gore said. "I will
put progress reports online, and the reports will be interactive so people
can e-mail their own ideas, tell us about the special challenges in their
own communities and help us shape solutions."
Although the ideas and initiatives Gore proposed in his speech are not
completely new, the important thing is that the audience hearing those ideas
is new, said Patricia McGinnis, president of the Council for Excellence
"E-government is moving fast, and it holds tremendous potential for
the future, but I don't think it's on the radar screen of most people,"
McGinnis said. "Hopefully, hearing the vice president and a presidential
candidate give a major speech on it will raise it on the radar screen of
more people." In his speech, Gore called for a "national commitment to create
a more responsive form of government."
Key to this "responsive" government is the concept of putting government
services online. As set out in the Government Paperwork Elimination Act
of 1999, agencies have until October 2003 to provide citizens with the option
of accessing government services electronically. And in December 1999, the
Clinton administration issued an "e-government" directive asking agencies
to put the forms needed for the top 500 government services on the Internet
by December 2000.
Gore also outlined the advantages of creating a single portal for government
information that would allow citizens to search for information by topic
rather than by agency, an initiative under way through NPR, the General
Services Administration and the CIO Council.
"People don't care at all what department or agency or office has specific
jurisdiction over the information or tools or resources that you need. And
you shouldn't have to care," Gore said.
To protect citizens' privacy, Gore re-emphasized the need for security
measures such as digital certificates, saying agencies should provide a
free digital key to any citizen. Through the e-government directive, the
administration is already encouraging agencies to issue a minimum of 100,000
digital certificates by December.
Putting in a plug for paperless contracting, Gore said he would push
for agencies to make all major purchases online. He also suggested creating
"g-Bay," an online auction site for agencies to raise money by selling surplus
Gore's speech touched on four key initiatives:
n Government Paperwork Elimination Act of 1999.
n WebGov, a single portal of government information.
n Digital certificates for online transactions.
n g-Bay, an online auction site for selling surplus equipment being
developed by FinanceNet.