Most governments now online
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 27, 2001
Spurred by citizen demand, 84 percent of municipal governments have a Web
site. But, according to a wide-ranging study released Tuesday, too few information
technology workers, too little money and fast changing technology are holding
Nearly 1,900 city and county governments each with a population of
more than 10,000 responded to the survey conducted jointly last fall by
the non-profit Public Technology, Inc.(www.pti.org) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) (www.icma.org), an advocacy group representing appointed municipal administrators.
It is one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys on e-government,
said ICMA President Bruce Romer, who is also Montgomery County, Md.'s chief
Called "Is Your Local Government Plugged In?" the study reaffirms the advance
of technology in municipalities to deliver to information and Web-based
transactions. The study found that relatively few municipalities offer online
financial transactions, such as tax payments, although about 96 percent
said they plan to offer such services.
"Technology is really a tool, and without a purpose, it's useless," said
Arlington County, Va., Board Chairman Jay Fisette, one of several local
officials confirming the study's findings. He also said that the Internet
should be a "tool to enhance democracy."
The survey found that e-government has changed local government: 44 percent
of respondents said providing such services has placed heavy demands on
their employees, but 36 percent said business processes were being re-engineered.
About 27 percent said their business processes were more efficient.
The study said a majority of local governments do not contract for services
with e-government vendors. However, many outsource some Web-related functions,
such as Web site design, hosting and operations.
The respondents said the biggest obstacles to e-government are lack of IT
staff, lack of financial resources, lack of technology or Web expertise,
the need to upgrade current technology, privacy issues and issues relating
to convenience fees for online transactions.
Some other findings include:
* Of those municipalities without a Web site, 70 percent of jurisdictions
plan to create one within a year.
* 51 percent employ a Webmaster or Web administrator.
* 53 percent purchase products online.
* 60 percent are considering developing a e-government master plan.
* Only 20 municipalities allow paid advertising on their Web sites,
and only 145 have a formal policy regarding paid advertisements.
* In addressing the digital divide, 80 percent of respondents reported
that they offer public-access terminals in municipal facilities, 45 percent
work with schools to provide computer access and 23 percent provide technical