Blueprint shows way to 'e2gov'

With government as we know it being transformed into e-government, the next stage may already be upon us — "e2government."

The National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (ec3.org), a consortium of national associations encouraging electronic government, unveiled a blueprint to promote enterprise electronic government, or e2government, at the council's annual conference in Las Vegas this week.

Jerry Mechling, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said governments are using technology to offer online applications, but agencies generally maintain separate information databases and duplicate efforts. "We have not, by and large, gotten into the integration across boundaries," he said.

Mechling called the council's white paper a "next-step document" to help governments develop a policy and implement the initiative. It lists these essentials to that end:

* Strong executive leadership.

* Identifying stakeholders and building coalitions. * Creating a sense of urgency.

* Governance.

* Sharing power and infrastructure.

* Communicating.

* Investing resources.

* Defining a project's focus and scope.

* Setting and supporting standards.

* Exploiting best practices.

* Setting expectations.

P.K. Agarwal, chief information officer with e-government firm NIC, defined enterprise government as "a way of doing things that delivers on the promise of a brand." For example, he said the Coca-Cola Co.'s brand promises refreshment. By promoting enterprise government, he said the public sector's promise should go beyond offering customer service and begin facilitating economic development — helping businesses succeed.

The document outlined challenges for governments, including ensuring people's privacy as agencies collect personal data, the difficulty in long-term agency planning, accepting technological obsolescence, the organizational culture, the lack of legislative support and the technological awareness of top-level executives.

As many states grapple with diminishing revenues during the recession, spending on enterprise government initiatives is still important, the council's officials said.

J.D. Williams, Idaho's state controller, said states should digitize their backroom applications, such as procurement, to effect savings. Mechling said some states are exploring the "self-funding model," in which vendors build the applications for state governments free of charge and then recoup their investment by charging transaction fees.

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