Council's blueprint upgrades e-gov
- By William Matthews
- Apr 02, 2001
The private sector has automated teller machines and gasoline pumps activated
by electronic wands. Government has slow-moving lines and ponderous paperwork.
"We have a digital economy, but we still have an analog government,"
said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).
That needn't be the case, according to the Council for Excellence in
Government, which has developed a blueprint for upgrading to an electronic
Davis and members of the council recently unveiled a plan that calls
for spending at least $3 billion and creating a new government technology
chain of command headed by an "e-government czar." The plan also urges
greater collaboration between the government and the private sector and
among federal, state and local agencies.
"Electronic government can fundamentally recast the connection between
people and their government," the council leaders contend. It can improve
access to information, speed up transactions and make participation in democracy
easier, according to the council.
Such improvements are important because 44 percent of Americans now
believe the government is ineffective at solving problems and helping people,
according to a poll conducted for the council.
The electronic infrastructure needed for e-government would be costly.
The council calls for creating a $3 billion "strategic investment fund"
to be spent over five years. But in the long run, savings could be substantial,
said council director Patricia McGinnis.
Although online transactions — such as paying taxes, applying for permits
and renewing driver's licenses — are already happening in some localities,
the Council for Excellence in Government envisions an electronic government
that goes much further.
E-government should make it possible to participate in public hearings,
converse with elected representatives, research voting records and even
vote, McGinnis said.