State launches how-to guide for e-gov

Just as the atom is a building block of matter, Washington state hopes that ATOM will be a building block for its agencies to develop e-government applications.

ATOM — Application Template and Outfitting Model — is a Web-based guide for Internet project development, said Paul Taylor, deputy director of the state's department of information services.

Taylor called the guide an "all-in-one, full-meal deal" to help the state's 120 to 150 agencies, boards and commissions get a "huge kick start, a huge advantage rather than staring at a white screen." He said it builds core competency, helps maximize an agency's time and saves money.

The guide ( walks people through the process of building e-government applications — such as e-permits and e-payments — and using tools such as digital certificates, firewalls and credit cards.

All told, Taylor's department mapped 144 steps needed to plan, analyze, review, design, develop, deploy and maintain Web pages and applications in accordance with state or agency business rules.

ATOM spells out policies and standards on privacy, payments, security, archiving and Web presentation. For instance, a new state project team learning the digital ropes could go step by step though the process without worrying about what's missing, he said. People can even download templates with code and script.

"For new project teams, they take comfort in having a guide," Taylor said. "And for veteran project development teams, they too have embraced it because it brings this formerly discrete process into one cohesive and comprehensive process because time is at a premium for everybody."

ATOM also shortens the learning curve for contractors, who have been hired for their expertise in certain e-government solutions. "We believe it helps them because much of what they have to do is to learn about the state environment, and ATOM provides a great deal of context to them as well and focuses attention on what they do best," he said.

"Birthed on a scratch pad" about 10 months ago, ATOM was tested by a few agencies in the summer and is being rolled out now, Taylor said. The guide was created through the collaboration of several agencies and will be refined as more agencies use it, he said.

"It's an online library of the community's knowledge and expertise," he said. "It gets better as it gets used."


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