Feds lag behind states in e-gov efforts

Even though it's better financed, the federal government is jumping into

e-government at a slower pace than its brethren at the state and municipal

levels, which are under intense pressure to provide online services,

That's the conclusion of a recent survey of 37 states and 60 federal

agencies.

"States tend to be more freewheeling and willing to take on initiatives.

We often say the states are the laboratories" for experiments in e-government,

said Ray Bjorklund, vice president of consulting services for Federal Sources

Inc., a market research firm.

FSI teamed with another consulting company, Meta Group Inc., to survey

110 government information technology officials for a report, "E-Government:

Creating Digital Democracy," that was released Aug. 8.

"We define e-government as the ability to obtain government services

through nontraditional electronic means" and to complete government transactions

"on an "anywhere, any time' basis," the survey said. Providing better service

is "the primary driving force behind e-government," the survey said.

Sixty-two percent of the state officials surveyed agreed that better service

is the main motivating factor behind e-government. But only 20 percent

of federal officials agreed. "Federal study participants were twice as likely

to name "legislative requirements' as the primary driving force," the firms

reported.

As a result, states and municipalities are moving faster to satisfy

public demand for online services.

In Montana, for example, the success of an online service for issuing hunting

and fishing licenses persuaded the state legislature to appropriate money

for other e-government initiatives. And a widely praised online vehicle

registration system in Arizona prompted California's governor to order his

state's motor vehicle department to establish one.

However, states lag behind the federal government in developing in-depth

plans for e-government, the survey discovered. "Ninety percent of federal

agencies have an e-government strategy; only 78 percent of states do," the

survey stated.

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