A review of all 50 U.S. state portals indicates to me that the eGov agenda is a priority nationwide. States like Michigan, Virginia, and New Mexico are moving forward with statewide IT consolidations in order to emphasize their commitment to the IT agenda. California Governor Schwarzenegger, taking a cue from Al Gore announced the California Performance Review. The CPR clearly has eGov at the top of the agenda:
"E-government, appropriately designed, enables government to better meet its business needs as a whole by delivering timely and efficient services, greater transparency and better access to information needed."
California identifies these three challenges as key to making the transformation:
- Staff needs to transform the fundamental conception of the interactions between government departments and members of the public. Simply put, government needs to treat all members of the public as customers of government services to promote and become a customer-centric culture.
- The state must expand dramatically cross-departmental and inter-governmental collaborations in designing, building and operating smart government services to make it easier for members of the public to interact with government. For example, requiring a start-up business to deal with three or more separate levels of government and many departments within each level of government does not facilitate business development. Local, state and federal governments must join collaboratively to design a more seamless, integrated process for delivering routine services to the public.
- Once smart services are designed and built, they must be marketed aggressively to secure public adoption. The benefits of smart services to the public and the associated cost savings to government will be lost unless the state ensures that the public is aware of these services and actually uses them in place of the existing traditional services.
What we have been calling iGov and been working on for several years is clearly a target. Likewise, this is what John Gotze is proposing as a culture of interoperability which is driving new developments throughout Europe as we find initiatives like the European Health Alliance, integrated coastal management, etc.
Christine Leitner, in a presentation to European heads of state in Como, Italy, observes that eGovernment is not just about technology, but more about a change of culture. She further observes that for eGovernment to really succeed and "become a meaningful agent for public governance and modernisation, eGovernment cannot remain technology focused." I think that is the realization that we came to here, that simply consolidating IT does not result in successful eGovernment. That culture and mindset must be shared throughout the enterprise with upper management, as well as line-workers all realizing that this is how they do business - that they are not islands or stovepipes, but are a piece of a much more complex, matrixed system. Core services should be delivered for efficiency at the enterprise level, while agency services should be integrated in an ever-evolving fashion to meet the customized needs of individual constituents. This is where the set of enterprise knowledge and technological expertise becomes important in the ability to interpret developments in areas like wireless, portlets, and web services into a new set of robust, customer-centric services.