Public getting impatient about e-gov, experts say
- By William Matthews
- Dec 03, 2000
Transitioning to Performance-based Government
Rising public expectations regarding e-government mean that the new president
will need a plan to answer those expectations, a group of senior government
officials has advised.
The public is increasingly aware of the promises of e-government — from
delivering services faster, to reducing costs for business, to forcing greater
government accountability. But the public also is aware that the federal
government is lagging in efforts to develop e-government, the group said.
"Bulgaria is doing a better job than us," the officials assert in a
38-page book of transition advice that will be delivered to the president-elect.
"In Bulgaria you can actually ask [a government official] a question online
and get an answer."
Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are also well ahead of
the United States when it comes to putting interactive government online,
the group of 140 current and former high-ranking government officials said.
Members of the group include senior officials from the Office of Management
and Budget, congressional staff members, several chief information officers
and senior information technology managers from federal agencies.
E-government presents the next president with a rare opportunity to
restructure the federal bureaucracy to improve its performance and to cut
duplication, they said. But to bring about that kind of transformation,
the president must select technology-savvy cabinet members and plan aggressive
"I've never seen an atmosphere more conducive to improving government,"
said Barry White, director of government performance projects at the Council
for Excellence in Government. "I really think there is hope," added White,
who spent 31 years working for federal agencies.
But there is evidence that the public is growing impatient, the group
said. The public is comparing e-government with e-commerce and finding the
former to be substandard. Although the public uses the Internet for shopping
and banking with private-sector companies, few agencies within government
enable the public to conduct transactions online.
"In too many cases, the government's use of [IT] lags far behind" the
private sector, the group 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
said. The group urged the president to appoint a federal CIO or "technology
secretary," but that recommendation wasn't unanimous.
Naming a federal CIO would be "a mistake. If you're trying to reform
government management, don't create another stovepipe," said Herbert Jasper,
a former OMB official.
The group also urged the president to give agency CIOs more authority
over agency budgets and decision-making.
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 OMB.