What is your vision for electronic government?

AL GORE

Gore has proposed creating an e-government where citizens are

online not in line, thereby creating a government that is always open. By

providing information and the ability to do business over the Net with government,

the government can give the American people what they need when they need

it, with fewer hassles, headaches and delays.

Gore's plan would put virtually every federal government service online

by 2003. Under the Gore plan, Americans would be able to, for example, check

the purity of their drinking water, find new job opportunities or determine

the quality of nursing home care for an aging parent or other loved one.

They will be able to apply for a Social Security number, ask to participate

in a clinical medical trial or pay their student loan online. Under this

proposal, a virtual government field office would be available to all Americans — 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the convenience of the citizen.

The Gore plan would require agencies to put progress reports online

so every American can see what has been achieved and where government has

fallen short. This Interactive Town Square would empower Americans to respond

with suggestions on what actions need to be taken to improve the effectiveness

and quality of government services. Armed with this information, citizens

would also be able to work directly with others who share the same interest,

for example, in their neighborhood veterans health care clinic or in planning

their community's disaster-preparation strategy.

Under the Gore plan, the government would save taxpayers tens of billions

of dollars by letting all buyers compete for government business on the

Internet in real-time auctions. In addition, the Gore plan would create

a new online government auction site — G-Bay — to sell equipment the government

no longer needs. The savings would be used to produce even greater efficiency,

more savings and better services for taxpayers.

Finally, under Gore's plan, the federal government would work in partnership

with the private sector to provide a free digital certificate to any citizen

who wants to connect with the government online. Americans would be able

to use this technology to gain information about their Social Security benefits,

apply for a home loan or report a crime in their neighborhood, all while

protecting their privacy. As president, Gore would protect Americans' privacy — because it must remain a fundamental right in the Information Age.

GEORGE W. BUSH

The explosive growth of the Internet has transformed the relationship

between customers and businesses. It is also transforming the relationship

between citizens and government. Bush believes that by enabling citizens

to drill through the federal bureaucracy to directly access information

and transact business, the Internet promises to shift power from a handful

of leaders in Washington to individual citizens.

State and local governments are already demonstrating the effectiveness

of the Internet in providing services to citizens. Here in Texas, a bilingual,

e-government portal, combined with an electronic payment system, has been

launched to provide individuals and businesses with a one-stop Internet

portal for conducting transactions with state and local government.

Bush believes that providing access to information and services and

making government more user- and citizen-friendly are just the first steps

in e-government. In order to make government truly citizen-centered, individuals

should be allowed to create their own personalized interface with government.

This would require integration of government systems, the establishment

of adequate security and privacy protections, and the use of secure and

protected databases to send individuals information tailored to their specific

needs and interests.

At the federal level, government is already spending considerable resources

on e-government initiatives. But there is a need for greater leadership

and coordination. The 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act mandated the appointment of

54 departmental and agency chief information officers and established a

governmentwide CIO Council. But, according to the acting deputy CIO of the

Defense Department, very few CIOs have operational responsibility, and very

few have a role in the decision-making process or the budget process of

an agency.

In addition, there is no one person or entity responsible for coordinating

e-government activities. Finally, because the great majority of e-government

appropriations are agency-specific, there is a lack of funding for e-government

projects that cut across agencies, such as the systems integration needed

to provide citizens with the ability to seamlessly navigate among programs

and departments.

Therefore, to accelerate the implementation of citizen-centered e-government,

as mentioned earlier, Bush would appoint a federal chief information officer.

To reiterate, the federal CIO would be responsible for providing the leadership

and coordination needed to realize the vision of a truly digital and citizen-centric

government. The CIO would head agency cross-functional councils on information

technology, facilitate collaboration with state CIOs and lead development

of standards, protocols and privacy protections, among other things.

In addition, the CIO would control the allocation of the $100 million

fund to support interagency e-government initiatives.

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