NECCC releases e-gov guide

While e-government has become a priority among municipal and state governments, lawmakers and administrators are apparently still unclear on what to do and how to proceed. To address this uncertainty, the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council unveiled a guide Wednesday at its annual national conference to help governments sort through such issues and concerns.

NECCC officials said this is the first guide to specifically address what governments need to do to progress into the digital age. P.K. Agarwal, chief information officer and executive vice president of for eGovernment Applications at NIC, a leading e-government provider, said that while entire books are devoted to e-commerce, little has been written about e-government.

"Nobody has three years experience in this field," said Agarwal, who is also the former California Franchise Tax Board CIO. "Everybody's learning as we go."

The guide explains why e-government is essential and how it is different from the business sector. While it is not a comprehensive guide, it is a starting point for governments, said J.D. Williams, Idaho state controller and outgoing NECCC chair.

The "E-Government Strategic Planning" guide should be used as a baseline so legislators and other government officials know what to ask when considering a digital application, Williams said.

The 34-page guide touches on several topics that governments should address, such as leadership, laws and regulations, governance, competency and technology. Within these topics, the guide also discusses electronic records management, privacy and security concerns, funding, performance measurement, contract and project management, best practices and relationship management as issues.

While NECCC officials said these components are important in developing e-government, they added that leadership and governance are more important. "Successful programs have strong leaders," Williams said.

Governments can take stock of their e-government activities through an "E-Gov Readiness Quiz," a checklist of 32 questions. The guide outlines what officials should consider when creating an implementation and strategic plan.

About 40 public and private sector officials worked on the guide, which took most of this year to develop. The guide is to be posted on NECCC's Web site, www.ec3.org, next week.

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