Nations eager to join e-gov fraternity

Nations eager to join e-gov fraternity

BY DENNIS BLANK | SPECIAL TO GCN

Other nations are greatly increasing their spending on information technology, a panel of executives said last month at the Information Technology Association of America’s management conference.

The trend reflects an effort to accelerate service delivery to the public, the panel told an audience at the conference in Orlando, Fla.

Perhaps the most aggressive government to jump into the high-tech arena is the emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which plans to spend $200 million on its Internet City—an area it bills as a free-trade zone for electronic commerce—over the next 18 months. Dubai hopes to attract 200 companies and 100,000 people with tax-free incentives, said Joiwind Ronen, director of the Technology Leadership Consortium of the Council for Excellence in Government.

Other countries are making significant strides in electronic government, Ronen said.
Canada will spend $160 million over the next two years on e-government efforts, he said. The country has a national chief information officer, and 60 percent of its agencies have a presence on the Internet.

Online down under

Australia and Ireland expect to be fully online by the end of this year, Ronen said, and Singapore plans to spend $870 million over the next three years for an electronic center of government services.

In addition to improving service, e-government may be able to eliminate graft, said panelist George Molaski, an executive with eAssociates Ltd. of Bellevue, Wash. In Lebanon, where the government is “totally corrupt,” Molaski said, city officials in Beirut hope putting government purchasing online will help eliminate payoffs.

The digital divide remains an obstacle for many countries. Anne Thomson Reed, vice president of Electronic Data Systems Corp.’s government global industry group, said those who need government services the most can least afford computers. But they can access the Internet through libraries and kiosks, she said.

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