Privacy, funding issues here to stay

State and local officials will continue to grapple with privacy issues and

the funding of government technology this year, a panel of e-government

experts agreed this week at the 2001 Southwest Government Technology Conference

in Austin, Texas.

"[E-government] is hard work over a long period of time, and it requires

great effort politically and economically," said Steve Kolodney, director

of the Washington Department of Information Services. Governments are facing

a "reality check" this year regarding how they can fund and implement technologies,

he said.

Companies haven't been charging governments to implement electronic

services, but they have charged transaction fees to citizens and businesses

to get return on their investment. But Doug Doerr, a partner with Accenture,

said he has seen a dramatic shift to governments becoming more disciplined

in how they approach implementing technology instead of accepting "free"

technology.

Joiwind Ronen of the Council for Excellence in Government said a majority

of people want e-government, and she cited a survey in which 68 percent

to 77 percent said using tax dollars to do so should be a medium to high

priority.

But Carolyn Purcell, executive director of the Texas Department of Information

Resources, said, "regionalism is alive and well." She cited a University

of Texas study in which respondents favored paying for IT with convenience

fees and advertising on government Web sites rather than tax dollars.

Kolodney said that transaction fees were "problematic" and that governments

need to find another revenue model. But he said the transaction-fee model

might offer some governments a way to get started in implementing and using

technology.

Privacy is another major issue that's not going away. Standards and

policies have to be in place so government doesn't unintentionally use citizen

information illegally. Ronen said that was the second-most cited citizen

concern after the threat of hackers. Kolodney called it the No. 1 issue

this year.

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