Study: E-gov falters easily

From rounding up funding to compelling cooperation among agencies, e-government is a tough business — so tough that more than 60 percent of e-government initiatives fail or fall short of their objectives, according to a study by Gartner Inc. analysts.

E-government often takes more money, planning, leadership and sustained focus than government officials anticipate, and without those key ingredients, e-government initiatives are likely to falter, Gartner analysts concluded.

"It's critical that governments groom a new generation of endeavor managers to head these complex, expensive and risky initiatives," said Judith Carr, vice president and senior program director for Gartner's Executive Programs, presenting the results of the study at a Gartner symposium April 30.

Perhaps the most difficult impediment for e-government is the structure of traditional government, Carr said. Typically, there are multiple agencies functioning at different levels of government, each operating according to its own laws and policies, essentially independent of others.

Even at 60 percent, however, the number of e-government initiatives that fail or fall short "is not all that bad," said Gartner research director French Caldwell. "Take a look at e-business. Back in 1999, we said that 98 percent of dot-coms would fail — and they did."

Funding is a frequent stumbling block for e-government initiatives, as is a lack of adequately skilled personnel.

"Traditionally, governments have designed their human resources practices to attract people who like to work in a secure, stable and often less competitive workplace," Carr said. "For e-government, they need people who not only adapt to change quickly, but also drive change."

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