Who cares about e-government?

One of the major fallacies with e-government, according to Greg Curtin, chief executive of the Civic Resource Group, is the perception that the public is demanding Web-based government services.

"That pressure is probably the least real of all of the pressures that are out there," he said. "People are certainly responding favorably to the idea of e-government, but there is no overwhelming pressure from citizens to provide it."

Instead, Curtin said, the most pressure is coming from businesses, which are calling for online availability of such things as permits and licenses, and for information about economic development. And governments increasingly believe that if they can project their localities as tech-savvy regions, they will be better positioned to attract businesses.

"That has become one of the most common issues talked about at economic development meetings," he said. "There is much less active citizen pressure [for Web services]."

Still, probably the biggest pressure on government executives is that of human nature. Somebody in a city or county sees their counterparts in other places getting accolades for things they have done with their Web sites, and that spurs a desire for something similar.

"One of the major requests we get now is for research on best practices," Curtin said. "That's a clear indication that government and agency people are thinking, 'Let's do what so-and-so did.'"

Back to main story: "E-gov misses local connection"

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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