Japan, U.S. CIOs face similarities

NASCIO

NEW ORLEANS — Comparisons are often drawn between the experiences of federal, state and local chief information officers, but successes and problems cross over into the international realm as well, officials said this week.

Japan's 47 prefectures are the equivalent of U.S. states. In 2003, Japanese officials decided to form a national council, the Japan Prefectural Government CIO Forum, modeled after the National Association of State CIOs.

While many prefecture CIOs are moving forward faster than state CIOs on wireless services because of the pervasiveness of Web-enabled wireless devices in Japan, they are also struggling with many of the same issues. Those include defining CIOs', redesigning Web portals to increase usability, developing marketing and awareness campaigns to bring citizens to e-government, and competition in contracting, officials said at the NASCIO annual conference here.

Japan currently ranks 13th on the annual global e-government maturity study of 22 countries that Accenture released in May.

This month officials in the Gifu prefecture, which is often called the Silicon Valley of Japan, launched the second version of their government portal, and the changes they made have already resulted in three times as many visitors than the previous version had, said Tanemasa Chiji, senior director of the prefecture's IT policy division.

Both versions of the portal have more than 85,000 pages of information and services, but although those were simply pulled together behind a single front page before, now they are grouped into zones based on the type of service and the user, Chiji said.

The Tottori prefecture has long had a semi-private technology center, which has essentially served as the outsourcing partner for the prefecture's network administration, Web services and other solutions. The Tottori Information Center also provides contract development support and training, said Hiroshi Morimoto, senior staff in the New Public Management Division of the General Affairs Department.

Since 2002, however, there has been significant political push to outsource services to local companies, Morimoto said. The prefecture can still award contracts to the center, but if officials decide that is the most efficient and effective solution, they must make the rationale public, he said.

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