Survey draws e-gov opinions

Iowa is asking its citizens to brainstorm ways of improving the state's e-government services.

Through a Web-based survey, Iowans can submit ideas on how to improve current digital services and programs or suggest new ones. The survey asks people to describe their idea and how it would work; suggest a working title for the project; define whom it would benefit; and identify the county in which they live.

Richard Varn, the state's chief information officer, said Gov. Tom Vilsack's administration doesn't want to provide digital services that no one will use.

Varn said citizens may have some good ideas, and they know what would benefit them through technology. "Citizens as a group are smarter than a government agency," he said.

He also said Iowans traditionally think geographically rather than by services. That's why the state is No. 1 per capita in the number of banks, state universities and telephone companies and has the 10th largest infrastructure in the country, he said.

The survey asks them to think in a different manner and also serves as a way to get them to buy in to the process, he said.

The deadline to respond to the survey is May 12. Afterward, responses, which are anonymous, will be compiled, pared down, and available in a report to be considered by the state.

Varn said soliciting suggestions from Iowans would be an ongoing process and not just a one-time request.

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