'Freewheeling' states jumping into e-gov
- By William Matthews
- Sep 04, 2000
Under pressure to provide better government services, states and municipalities
are jumping into e-government faster than their better- financed big brother,
the federal government, according to a survey of 37 states and 60 federal
"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 pres-ident of consulting services for Federal Sources
FSI teamed with another consulting company, META Group Inc., to survey
110 government information technology officials for a report, "E-Government:
Creating Digital Democracy," released in August.
"We define e-government as the ability to obtain government services
through nontraditional electronic means" and to complete government transactions
"on an ""anywhere, anytime' basis," the consultants stated in their report.
Providing better service to citizens is "the primary driving force behind
Sixty-two percent of the state officials surveyed agreed that better
service is the main factor motivating their e-government efforts. But
only 20 percent of federal officials concurred. "Federal study participants
were twice as likely to name "legislative requirements' as the primary
driving force," the report stated.
As a result, states and municipalities are moving faster than the federal
government to satisfy demand for online services.
In Montana, for example, the success of an online service for issuing
hunting and fishing licenses convinced 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,"
according to the survey.
Lack of planning may hurt in the long run because pressure from constituents
and elected officials could lead to haphazard e-government development,
the consultants concluded. But too much planning and too little progress
can leave governments in a "cultural time warp."
Quoting Intel Corp. chairman Andy Grove, the report stated, "Internet
time is about three times as fast as clock time. The government works on
government time, which is about three times as slow. That's a ninefold difference."
One way for state governments to speed up the pace of e-government development
would be letting private-sector companies provide some of the services,
the consultants said.