Center offers e-governance resources
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Dec 02, 2001
A leading organization for government managers and a Virginia university
last week unveiled an online clearinghouse to make it easier for government
officials, academics and others to exchange ideas about the impact of technology
on privacy, civic engagement and other public policy issues.
The National Academy of Public Administration and the Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University intend for the Center for eGovernance (www.napawash.org/ce)
to serve as a focal point for the emerging topic of e-governance, said
Mike Dunham, who co-directs the center.
Dunham defines e-governance as the "people, processes and policies associated
with managing technology," in contrast with the more familiar concept of
e-government, which he describes as the technical aspects of putting government
The clearinghouse will foster collaborations among governments, the
academic community and the private sector on such issues as security technology
and business operation.
The national dialogue on e-governance has been "scattered," Dunham said.
The clearinghouse, which would sponsor forums and roundtables, would act
much like the federal CIO Council, which helps agencies interact with one
another on common issues, he said.
Dunham said it would also reach out to associations, government organizations
and other groups with an interest in e-governance, which he characterized
as complex, broad and in its infancy.
"It's one that's going to be evolving over years to come," he said.
"The new capabilities being presented are far outstripping our ability to
imaginatively understand what the implications are."
For example, it's easy for people to understand the use of biometrics
as an emerging technology for security purposes. But some people may perceive
it as a Big Brother tactic. Such issues are so critical that they need to
be raised to the next level, he said.
technologies without understanding the perception of the public," Dunham
said. "At some point, there can be such a negative impact on the use of
technologies that it could put back us by decades."
Virginia Tech professor Charles Goodsell, who helped develop the clearinghouse,
said interest in e-governance is "growing exponentially."
Still, although technology may make government much more efficient and
accessible, the basic way citizens interact with the government will remain
the same, Goodsell said.
"It's certainly going to have an important future in the delivery of
services in government," he said. "It's not going to revolutionize the relationship
between the citizen and the government. I don't see it as basically altering
the nature of democracy. I have this basic belief that human contact will
be at the center of our political systems."
Spreading the news
Facts on the Center for eGovernance:
* Developed by the National Academy of Public Administration and Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University.
* Web site: www.napawash.org/ce.
* Purpose: To serve as a resource and promote e-governance issues and
to foster partnerships among governments, academic institutions, the private
sector, nonprofit groups, foundations and other organizations.
* Serve as a clearinghouse for information on academic degree courses,
certificate programs, executive training courses, conferences and seminars,
research and projects, case studies and best practices, and privacy issues.
* Collaborative virtual network of 24 universities and colleges.