CIOs: E-gov empowers people
- By Eric Kulisch
- Sep 26, 2000
Although the citizen-as-customer approach to governance is an improvement
from the faceless bureaucratic model of the past, it does not go far enough,
said two state information officers at the forefront of redefining the relationship
between government and the public.
The problem with the mindset that citizens are customers is that "it
implies that [government officials] are the owners of the business," Steve
Kolodney, Washington state's chief information officer, told his counterparts
at the annual conference of the National Association of State Information
Resource Executives in Baltimore on Monday.
Kolodney and Larry Singer, chief information officer of the Georgia
Technology Authority, echoed the theme that governments can maintain credibility
by viewing citizens as stockholders rather than customers: Digital government
is the vehicle that will empower people to make decisions as the owners
"We have to concentrate on giving people back their government," Kolodney
said. To that end, Washington has 240 digital government services online,
with 95 more coming soon, Kolodney said.
If officials do not seize that opportunity, private industry will fill
the void and marginalize government, he said.
Key questions leaders need to face as they implement e-government, according
to Kolodney and Singer, are:
* What is the right balance between enterprisewide application of IT
and autonomy for the agencies that have to implement an application?
* How are digital services funded? Singer said that small fees are appropriate
for businesses, such as real estate companies, seeking data on a regular
* How many forms of payment, and conditions, will be allowed?
* Will public information be sold for commercial purposes?
* Can government ensure privacy and security?
* Can government staffs develop a tolerance for uncertainty characterized
by rapid change?
For change to permeate government, state employees have to buy into
the new model of government, Singer said. For decades the culture has taught
them that their power comes from the information they control. That thinking
must give way to data sharing among agencies and with the public.