Experts: E-gov examples shine abroad

After the election is over and the new president starts setting his agenda,

he ought to look at Bulgaria if he needs ideas about e-government.

"Bulgaria is doing a better job than us," a group of government experts

declares in a 38-page volume of transition advice to be delivered to the

president-elect. "In Bulgaria you can actually ask a question online and

get an answer" from a government official, the experts say.

Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom also are well ahead of

the United States when it comes to putting interactive government on the

Internet, said the group of 140 current and former high-ranking government

officials. The Reason Public Policy Institute hosted a briefing Thursday

to release the group's report.

The experts warn that there are signs the American public is getting

fed up with substandard e-government performance. The performance of government

agencies on the Internet is not keeping up with the public's demand for

"faster, better and cheaper" services, they said.

In the private sector, the Internet is used for activities ranging from

buying products to paying bills to making investments. But "in too many

cases, the government's use of information technology lags far behind,"

they said. "Customers of federal agencies and the taxpayers in general have

rising expectations," and the new president and the next Congress "will

be tested" by those rising expectations. The group's recommendations include:

* Name a government chief information officer.

* Give agency CIOs more power over budgets and decision-making.

* Develop a national e-government agenda.

* Use information technology to tie together similar services offered

by different agencies.

* Use IT to transform government, not just to automate it.

The group included John Koskinen, who headed the federal government's

Year 2000 computer compliance effort last year, and Joshua Gotbaum, executive

associate director and controller at the Office of Management and Budget.

It also included several federal agency CIOs, senior-level information technology

managers and Bill Eggers, a senior IT adviser to candidate George W. Bush.

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