E-government could be a new academic field

ATLANTA—The scientific study of how government uses technology to interact with citizens is not a full-fledged discipline yet, though the building blocks are in place for it to become one, according to a panel at the National Science Foundation’s annual meeting for researchers in its Digital Government program.

“Governments are spending billions of dollars on systems without understanding what they are buying or how they fit in their organizations,” said Jane Fountain, director of the National Center for Digital Government at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The nascent field still faces considerable barriers to recognition as a full-fledged discipline. One is the lack of basic theoretical research, said Judith Klavans, director of research for the University of Maryland’s Center of Advanced Study of Language. Most projects funded by federal agencies or states have been aimed at addressing specific problems, rather than building the basic knowledge of the field.

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