What is your vision for electronic government?
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
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
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.