Worst spyware queues up. CoolWebSearch is most dangerous item on a top 10 list of the worst spyware and adware programs. [CNET News.com]
Government Technology Magazine has a new idea and it's a good one. Sick of having to register and share your personal information with 20 different IT companies to get access to white papers and IT best practices. GT provides a convenient one-stop portal to begin your research. I think this is an excellent resource for IT Directors and Product Managers in carrying out their duties and assignments. It is complementary to the State of Utah's best practice libary, OWL. The GovTech.net Library, with a single registration offers access to "the latest trends on the hottest new technologies," says GT.
More Chips Anyone?
The story below was written by WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jul 15, 9:39 AM ET
Chips Implanted in Mexico Judicial Workers
MEXICO CITY - Security has reached the subcutaneous level for Mexico's attorney general and at least 160 people in his office — they have been implanted with microchips that get them access to secure areas of their headquarters.
It's a pioneering application of a technology that is widely used in animals but not in humans.
Mexico's top federal prosecutors and investigators began receiving chip implants in their arms in November in order to get access to restricted areas inside the attorney general's headquarters, said Antonio Aceves, general director of Solusat, the company that distributes the microchips in Mexico.
Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha and 160 of his employees were implanted at a cost to taxpayers of $150 for each rice grain-sized chip.
More are scheduled to get "tagged" in coming months, and key members of the Mexican military, the police and the office of President Vicente Fox (news - web sites) might follow suit, Aceves said. Fox's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
A spokeswoman for Macedo de la Concha's office said she could not comment on Aceves' statements, citing security concerns. But Macedo himself mentioned the chip program to reporters Monday, saying he had received an implant in his arm. He said the chips were required to enter a new federal anti-crime information center.
"It's only for access, for security," he said.
The chips also could provide more certainty about who accessed sensitive data at any given time. In the past, the biggest security problem for Mexican law enforcement has been corruption by officials themselves.
Aceves said his company eventually hopes to provide Mexican officials with implantable devices that can track their physical location at any given time, but that technology is still under development.
The chips that have been implanted are manufactured by VeriChip Corp., a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions Inc. of Palm Beach, Fla.
They lie dormant under the skin until read by an electromagnetic scanner, which uses a technology known as radio frequency identification, or RFID, that's now getting hot in the inventory and supply chain businesses.
Scott Silverman, Applied Digital Solutions' chief executive, said each of his company's implantable chips has a special identification number that would foil an impostor.
"The technology is out there to duplicate (a chip)," he said. "What can't be stolen is the unique identification number and the information that is tied to that number."
Erik Michielsen, director of RFID analysis at ABI Research Inc., said that in theory the chips could be as secure as existing RFID-based access control systems such as the contactless employee badges widely used in corporate and government facilities.
However, while those systems often employ encryption, Applied Digital's implantable chips do not as yet. Silverman said his company's system is nevertheless save because its chips can only be read by the company's proprietary scanners.
In addition to the chips sold to the Mexican government, more than 1,000 Mexicans have implanted them for medical reasons, Aceves said. Hospital officials can use a scanning device to download a chip's serial number, which they then use to access a patient's blood type, name and other information on a computer.
The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) has yet to approve microchips as medical devices in the United States.
Still, Silverman said that his company has sold 7,000 chips to distributors worldwide and that more than 1,000 of those had likely been inserted into customers, mostly for security or identification reasons.
In 2002, a Florida couple and their teenage son had Applied Digital Solutions chips implanted in their arms. The family hoped to someday be able to automatically relay their medical information to emergency room staffers.
The chip originally was developed to track livestock and wildlife and to let pet owners identify runaway animals. The technology was created by Digital Angel Corp., which was acquired by Applied Digital Solutions in 1999.
Because the Applied Digital chips cannot be easily removed — and are housed in glass capsules designed to break and be unusable if taken out — they could be even more popular someday if they eventually can incorporate locator capabilities. Already, global positioning system chips have become common accouterments on jewelry or clothing in Mexico.
Created by the Center For Digital Government and sponsored by Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. The Digital State Survey is the longest running and only remaining national report card on State's and their information technology efforts in the area of creating and sustaining their citizen service initiatives. Describing the winners the Center For Digital Government says: "Michigan, long known as an industrial-era powerhouse built on auto and steel manufacturing, has emerged as the leader, capturing first-place in the survey, followed by Washington, Virginia, Indiana, Arizona, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina (tied for 10th). It also was noted that Michigan moved up the rankings from 11th to 9th to second in 2002 before capturing the top spot in 2004. Virginia also has followed a similiar pattern of improvement moving from 6th to 3rd place in this years ranking. Those following the activities in these states are aware of the significant effort that both Virginia and Michigan have made with IT consolidation. This effort appears to be paying off.
Utah County's Web Portal was ranked tenth in the Nation in the 250,000-499,999 population category by the Center for Digital Government .
No other county in Utah made it into the top ten. Three cheers for their effort! Other Utah counties want to take on Utah in the next competition and move up the ranking? The time to get ready for next year is now.
Archives E-mail to Fulfill Public Records Requests
Florida's Department of Health implemented new e-mail archiving software to better manage the agency's growing e-mail stores and ensure compliance with Florida statutes governing citizens' access to public records. Courtesy of Government Technology Executive News
FREE AUDIOCAST: THE BENEFITS OF GRID COMPUTING
Courtesy of TechRepublic
This audiocast presents the issues IT leaders need to examine before
deploying grid technologies and evaluates grid computing's many
benefits. Register for this free audiocast and receive a complimentary
download, "Develop an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan."
Electronic Voting Code Should Be Open Source
Clive Thompson writing in New York Times Magazine makes the case for open source in an article entitled: A Really Open Election.
The New York Times has called for a paper back-up while the Florida Secretary of State in an attempt to calm the fears of voters says:: ''The touch-screen machines are not computers.'' But one organization is offering a solution. The Open Voting Consortium combines open source software where everyone can inspect how votes get processed with a verifiable paper trail. This group is one to watch.
"Redesigning an intranet for usability often more than doubled the use of these award-winning designs from ten public-sector organizations." See Jakob Nielsen's Alert Box for the winners.
Rising Exectations of a New Demographic (Kids and Youth)
We have been saying for sometime that the real revolution in digital government is going to come in the next generation of children who view the Internet as an appliance much in the same way people of my generation viewed TV and my parents generation viewed the radio. Still, this report came as somewhat of a shock and indicated clearly that we are already well on our way. According to a report by the National Center for Educational Statistics and reported in the Salt Lake Tribune: "About 90 percent of people ages 5 to 17 use computers, and 59 percent of them use the Internet -- rates that are, in both cases, higher than those of adults."
How will this change the expectations of digital government and online service delivery? In my opinion, a lot.
Technologies, particularly the most disruptive ones are viewed very differently across generations as they move from magic to science fiction to marvelous innovation to necessity. We could debate the wisdom of children who seem to think TV viewing is a fundamental necessity, but try to pry that remote from a group that has clearly extended the utility of the opposable thumb! Still, how many of us except in maybe the most impoverished parts of the world see eating utensils for instance as purely a luxury?. Yet if you go back a few hundred years you would find they were an invention used only by the wealthiest in society.
So, how does that relate to the expectations of government when our 5-17 year old children reach the age of majority? If we aren't prepared, the reaction will appear seismic in proportion. Luckily for us we have a little breathing room to be ready. Some people in my generation and also among even the younger Xers seem stuck in the idea that 24X7 eGovernment is a nice luxury that we provide to citizens and businesses as long as it doesn't interfere with "our day job." I've also heard some managers express the view that an employee portal is not a tool of sound management but is merely an employee perk!!? All I can say to this group is it is time to crawl out of the tar pits. Sadly, though they are in for a real shock. They were some of the same folks that saw the dot.com bust as the end and not the beginning. Also in 2001, other alleged "visionaries" were already predicting the "death" of eGovernment.
But the demographics don't lie and kids and youth (5-17) are already of "voting" age and they are voting with their mice (mouses?) and blowing us adults out of the water as they flock to the Internet quicker than college students to Spring Break. And although they are playing games and checking on the weather the most frequent use is to complete school work. When these young people grow up some may never have stood in a line at a government office except maybe as a young child with a parent. For many the only channel of interaction they will have ever had with government (outside of the public school system or an occasional trip to the local libary that is) was online. Will they say: "Gosh, isn't it great that we can do our business with the government online instead of inline?" NOT! They will expect all (or nearly all) government services to be available online and if they aren't they will demand to know why not. This culture shift will shake governments that are not prepared, to their core. If we are not there waiting for the 5-17 year olds when they show up as adult citizens with a huge portfolio of government services basic confidence is government to deliver will suffer a blow that will be hard to recover from in the near term. In coming articles I will explore some steps that we can take right away to take with our portals to reach out to this age group because as this survey shows, they are already one of our biggest and newest customers.
At 10:14 a.m. November 5, 2003 Governor Michael O. Leavitt resigned from office to assume the role as Adminstrator of the Environmental Protection agency. The event is being streamed live from ITS and over utah.gov At 10:16 a.m. Governor Olene S. Walker took the oath of office. At 10:17 a.m. the new Governor's picture and welcome statement was posted and went live on utah.gov At 10:21 a.m. the Governor Walker website also went live, a symbol of smooth government transition and of the conduct of "eGovernment in real-time."
It is only appropriate that I'm listening to Governor Walker's speech live at my computer in my office. Within a few minutes I will need to cut away to present some ideas at a quarterly board meeting of Utah Tech Corps a great organization that I have served on for the last three years. None of this (the live video stream, the online board meeting, posting to this weblog, and the synchronized transition of the new Governor's site, all in real time) would have been possible just a few years ago. On the morning of this transition I have great hope for eGovernment and its power to transform Utah government now and in the future. (Posted 10:39 a.m 11/5/03)
Building the Virtual State: Information Technology and Institutional Change
I am reading this book that was published by the Brookings Institution. I have been meaning to read it for the last year and decided now was the time. Fountain supports her theories not only through the work of other researchers but through the classification and analysis of 50 finalists and semifinalists in the Innovations Program in American Government. When the book was written the federal government had about 25 cross-agency websites. The value of this work is not only its well-crafted theory and its documented descriptions of the practice of eGovernment at the federal level from 1993 until its publication in 2001. The book is both cause for optimism and also a warning. Fountain cautions against the theory of technological determinism...the idea that technology will lead inevitably to the transformation of pubic institutions. Fountain agrees that the growth of neworked computing, particularly the Internet has and can enable revolutionary transformation of the nation state. Nevertheless, she cautions that there are no guarantees. She further develops the framework (based on earlier work in human/computer interaction and technology diffusion) that she calls the "enactment of technology" within the structure of institutions and oganizations. She makes a strong case that political science, organizational behavior, and social science must work with computer science and engineering to study how bureacracies can permit, and in part be transformed, into productive organizational networks that can more fully participate in, and take advantage of the network computing. That's a mouth full but it is both rich and nutritious!
State's appear to be moving away from state.xx.us as the standard for state portal URL's to the .gov designation. 20 states, if I counted correctly are now .govs Nevertheless some states still use the confusing .com or .org URL for their websites. Utah was one of the earliest states to move to the .gov designation and the ease of remembering our website URL's is one small example of good customer service. Unfortunately, we still have a few of our own state agency operated websites designated as .coms and .orgs This is lessening over time thankfully. If you want to join the utah.gov family of agency websites and you have not done so, send an email for eligibility and 'how to" instructions. For most, it is a pretty straight forward and I think, a customer friendly process. We encourage any state or local government entity (political sub-divisions of state government) to apply. There is no charge for this service. Sorry, commercial or private non-profits are not eligible.
CTG at SUNY Albany is another example of a key player in digital government applied research. The Center for Technology in Government works with government to develop information strategies that foster innovation and enhance the quality and coordination of public services. Since its creation in 1993, the Center has conducted 25 partnership projects, which produced outcomes that have helped state, local, and federal government agencies improve services and operations. They have developed a very ambitious research agenda.
One recent area that should be great interest to Utah web designers might be CTG's integration of XML technology into their website. The site enables users to search by project, publication, and the themes of their work. After the initial investment in learning XML, they report, "...a dramatic and positive impact on overall site management and flexibility.
Date Written: June 24, 2003
Title: Supreme Court Affirms Use of Computer Filters in Public Libraries
Date Written: June 23, 2003
Date Written: June 16, 2003
Title: Health warning network guards privacy
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Date Written: June 21, 2003
Title: Security Drives License Redesign
Digital Goverment Research Agenda
The digital government research agenda is broad and deep. Research centers or specialities are cropping up across the country partly as a result of funding focused in this arena by the National Science Foundation. Over the next couple of months I will focus on the key players in this arena and the types of products that have evolved from this research. I will also in the process hopefully make the case for a continuing multidisciplinary research agenda that is not just appealing to researchers alone but an agenda that leads to changing how digital government is done in the field.
One of the key NSF grantees is Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government under the auspices of the National Center for Digital Government directed by Jane E. Fountain. The Center discusses why it exists: Public servants, technical specialists, and researchers have a deep obligation to examine, articulate and communicate the range of possible effects of ubiquitous computing in government and to influence its development through research, dialogue, and practical activities.
So, why should we care?. Practitioners in digital government need to evolve beyond our initial effort to be "first to market." While it is important to stay in the lead as a digital state, just putting up x number of applications a year won't be enough. Our approach must be disciplined and deliberate. That doesn't mean we can sit back and not put up applications, it simply means that flying by the seat of our pants is no longer enough. We must mature as a speciality. The key to our maturity is a community of practioners backed by a community of multi-disciplinary researchers to assist us in doing digital government not only quickly but smartly. A body of knowledge that can be passed on from project to project is essential for hitting the ground running.
Needless to say keeping the Blog active has been a challenge. In the future, I hope not only to report on the research focus of digital government but also on futures research and forecasts and where they intersect with digital government issues.
As you may have noticed, this weblog has been silent for quite a while. Part of the problem was giving it the priority needed and part was a question of relevance. As you know Dave Fletcher's weblog has been simply doing a fantastic job of doing a daily survey of the status of e-Government Services both in Utah and around the globe. The breadth of coverage has really fullfilled a communication need that was sadly lacking in our e-gov efforts in the past. Because of this coverage I found myself much more interested in reviewing Dave's BLOG as opposed to writing in this one. Over the last month I have been thinking about that focus and have decided to take a different direction and wanted to take a moment to explain why.
Digital government has evolved beyond the days of dot.com boom and bust. In the beginning we were attempting to move from static websites to ones where the public and businesses had a greater opportunity to actually do business with the government over the Internet. We spent the first several years picking the low hanging fruit from getting your hunting and fishing license online to renewing a motor vehicle registration.
However, since 9-11 post dom.com bust budgets have dramatically shrunk and so has some of the funding for IT projects. It doesn't mean people aren't doing IT projects. According to information gained from the Product Management Council, 55 e-government services are either online this year or scheduled to be. Through our contract with Utah Interactive, we can pretty well count on 20+ applications annually or nearly two new applications per month in addition to many new website designs and updates and maintenance to 80+ existing online applications.
Although this has been excellent progress, the work has just gotten harder and the time it takes to build some of our newer enterprise applications are increasing as are complexity of applications like OneStop Business Registration. Our decisions on what to bring online and when ought to be more data driven. I will be talking more about this later.
As a kick off to this new direction I will be talking about some of the knowledge gained from the National Conference on Digital Government Research May 18-21 in Boston as well as other research areas.
New e-Gov Survey Released
Americans are online, e-savvy, and exploring e-government according to recent findings of a five-part study on the issue of e-government conducted by Hart-Teeter on behalf of the Council for Excellence in Government and Accenture. According to the report called:
The New e-Government Equation: Ease, Engagement, Privacy and Protection, Americans are exploring the Internet in large numbers. Nearly seven in 10 survey respondents have Internet access in their home, at school, or at work, and seven in 10 of those Internet users access the Internet at least once a day.Americans are using and appreciating e-government services offered by their federal, state, and local governments. Half of all Americans and three-quarters of American Internet users already have used a government website to find information or conduct a transaction. Nevertheless privacy and security remain key trust issues that governments must address.
Software to Write Software: Hype or Holy Grail
A small British company claims to have created software that can write
new software--one of the long-sought goals in computer programming.
The new applications software developed by Appligenics Ltd. in Surrey
is "up to 500,000 times faster than human programmers and completely
error-free," says Jim Close, the company's business development
director. "That means whereas a human would consider 400 lines of
computer code a good day's work, our software writes that in under a
quarter of a second." -- Courtesy of World Future Society, a very interesting organization in which I've been a member for about fifteen years (if not longer).
This was the promise of CASE tools but as we all know that didn't get us too far. So, I prefer to think of this as a "new promise" until I receive information that proves otherwise. Holy Grail or Holy Hype? You decide. I prefer to smile rather than smirk first. I can always laugh about it later. I keep thinking we have got to find a way to get more digital government applications online at higher velocity like the Governor wants us to do. To do that we have to find ways of dramatically increasing our efficiency. Given that I will continue to keep my eye on "hair-brained ideas" even at the risk of being thought of as chasing "cold fusion." We need to keep our minds open lest cynicism set in. If a UK company with a bold idea can actually succeed in making this happen, I'm all for it.
Feds Put Money Where Their Mouths Are
President Bush signed House Resolution 2458 into law on Dec. 17, devoting $345 million to e-government initiatives over the next four years. The law establishes an Office of Electronic Government within the Office of Management and Budget. The new office is to oversee integration of IT training, development, policy and interagency implementation throughout the federal government on a schedule that would see $45 million spent in FY 2003, $50 million in FY 2004 and $250 million in the two subsequent years.
Scientists and technology companies think they may be able to make headway on a cure for smallpox using the idle computer computer power of PCs. From Deseret News See full story . For more information contact www.grid.org
Intel Corporation and Utah TECH CORPS Provide Free Computers to Cash-Strapped Utah Schools Intel Corporation and Utah TECH CORPS, a non-profit organization that matches volunteers and resources for technology projects in public schools, have placed more than $126,000 worth of computer hardware, peripherals and equipment into needy Utah public schools. I serve as a member of the Board so I was particularly pleased to see this article.
Partnership moves students out of "digital dark age" with donated computer systems
Intel Corporation and Utah TECH CORPS, a non-profit organization that matches volunteers and resources for technology projects in public schools, have placed more than $126,000 worth of computer hardware, peripherals and equipment into needy Utah public schools.
I serve as a member of the Board so I was particularly pleased to see this article.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The University at Albany's Center for Technology in Government has received an award from the U.S. Department of Justice to identify successful tools to improve public safety through justice information sharing.
Using the $503,000 award, the CTG said it will develop a capability-assessment model based on best practices in information sharing across justice agencies to help justice agencies gauge their readiness to implement information sharing and integration initiatives. -- Government Technology
CHILD SUPPORT MADE EASY Keeping up with child-support payments is a simple matter for non-custodial parents in Florida, who can now go to MyFloridaCounty.com and make payments online or set up recurring payments. The funds are transferred electronically to the proper recipient by the State Disbursement Unit. MyFloridaCounty.com is a project of the Florida Local Government Internet Consortium, a joint effort of the Florida clerks of court and tax collectors and e-government firm NIC.
http://myfloridacounty.com/services/child_support/ from Governing Magazine
Prognostication can be a dangerous course. What seemed a good idea at the time could cause you to end you up in the annals of web jokes because twenty years ago you said some such thing like: "The PC won't amount to nothin'" or "Who would ever want graphics on the Internet", etc. etc. But NASCIO asked so I obliged them with my best guess on where we are headed. The greatest error (terror?) I found in my past "predictions" is that they have been far too conservative, not so much in terms of where we were going, but with regard to how quickly the technology changed over time. In either case, here is my shot at looking out 2-5 years out on where Utah government could be. Feel free to let me know which major trends I've missed. There is not a lot in here about security so that probably ought to be added. However, in this document we were limited to 1,000 words. Read the full story
For those of you who have not been following Dave McNamee's Weblog due to its not being updated as of late ;-) a hearty welcome back. Dave, as he mentioned in today's entry is going to be focusing on content management as an ITS product manager. This is a good thing since Dave Fletcher and I have both been hearing from Health and DCED that this needs to be an enterprise focus...and soon! I look forward to reading more about the content management initiative as it ramps up.
Governing Magazine writes: The popularity and dependability of the Internet have raised Americans' expectations about the online availability of government services and information, according to a new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. More than 80 percent of Internet users say they expect to find information from government agencies on the Web. Even among non-Internet users, 39 percent expect that the government information they need will be online.
The full report online
Governments at every level have learned a lot of lessons since September 11, 2001. But sharing that knowledge among themselves is another challenge. The National League of Cities has two publications that can help. “Homeland Security: Practical Tools for Local Government” provides detailed advice on such topics as creating mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities. “Homeland Security: Federal Resource for Local Governments” lists federal agencies and programs that provide resources for responding to terrorism and other emergencies. Both can be downloaded from the NLC Web site, which contains a wealth of other information on homeland security:
The answer is: Governor Mike Leavitt. Of course, what is remarkable about this isn't so much what he said since this quote has been consistent with the Governor's vision for technology. What is a surprise I think to many, is that this isn't a new concept from the Governor's 1,000-day plan. This quote was delivered on November 8, 1993 in a major address to Electronic Highway Summit. For those who work in Utah State government and still may wonder whether these ideas were from the CIO alone, well think again. The winner of the quiz is Dave Fletcher. I think Dave might be able to nearly deliver that speech without notes.
I found an interesting quote while working on one of my assignments last week. I will announce the name of the winner (first person to email me with the name - click on the comment link below this entry) on my blog (with the caveat that the person has the right to opt in or out; just say which when you submit your answer). The quiz is: Who said: One of the most important messages I want to leave today is that we must avoid parallel networks and duplication. We must be as efficient and effective as possible. We must work with other education and government entities. We must avoid turf battles and infighting. We must look at the citizen as the customer of the whole state, not just one state agency. I don't believe the barrier here is technology. I believe it is lack of vision and unwillingness to change and try something new. Hint: the person currently works in Utah State Government. Extra "points" if you can say when.
Phil Windley recently wrote an entry in his blog called: Public Service Tip No. 1: Process Is More Important Than Results. Dave Fletcher has been reporting on the comments coming in from across the nation on Phil's resignation. Notables such as Doc Searle and Dave Winer via his Scripting News site were among many covering this comments.
Phil quotes a public employee as saying something to the effect: "Remember, process is more important than results." He goes on to say: "Still, the thought that process is paramount would strike any private sector mind as folly....Nevertheless, if you're going to have a successful career in government, you have to learn to accept the fact that results don't matter."
I simply can't imagine why anyone in the public sector would say, and actually mean, that process is more important than results. I firmly believe that this comment would also strike a lot of us who have dedicated our lives to public service "as folly" too. Some folks may have become so cynical as to actually believe it, but to work in government based on this assumption is to do a disservice to the public and to our colleagues that depend upon us to get things done! A reasonable lesson learned I think instead would be: "Form alliances with others who have a track record of making things happen in government while never taking your eye off the ball (the process)." That is neither cynical nor Pollyannaish. It's just the way it is.
I just got back from the NECCC conference in NYC where I saw David Lewis the former CIO of Massachusetts who recently retired. Writing on his experience of over 30 years in state government, David advises new CIOs in this way: Incoming CIO executives from the private sector will do well to recognize these differences [between public and private sector] and understand how to navigate government to make things happen. It is not unusual for a person new to government to be stymied by what appears to be insurmountable bureaucracy. Government places high value on relationships; finding and enlisting those who know the inner workings of government can help you form a few ideas with large impact and overcome the unique challenges. The first thing I plan to do when the new CIO arrives is give this person a copy of the article. On second thought, maybe I'll give him or her the whole book.
end in mind. If architecture is done well it will provide a single face of government that is easy to navigate, consistent in look and feel and seamlessly integrated--allowing the user to find what he wants according to his intentions, not the government's organizational structure. He also defines digital government as digitally enabled government that is end-to-end -- using modern web-based technology to share information across and deep into the enterprise. The article is in: 21st Century Government: A Primer on Technology for Public Officials a book that I would recommend. Also, it is a quick read.
The Governor spoke on December 3rd at NECCC . He pushed very hard for the concept that we need a National Homeland Security Plan, not a Federal Homeland Security Plan. He argued convincingly that first responders are at the state and local level. We don't need a new program or a new IT system. What we need is integration. The Governor said we must understand that the County Sheriff doesn't get up in the morning and the first thing he does is worry about "terrorists." It is not his primary mission. Until the problems that our infrastructure creates by not being horizontally and vertically integrated are solved, the homeland will not be secure. In other words, the problems that lead to the security breaches are systemic, so we must recognize that first and then develop a plan to do something about it.
opened the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (NECCC) in New York City. The mayor's administration gets it when it comes to using IT. He doesn't believe we need to create new programs. If we could take existing programs and make them more efficient we would be doing a good job doing that alone. He talked about his agencies and their tendencies in NYC to worry about their own "products" that they supply and often "neither know or care about what other parts of city government are doing." NYC is developing an enterprise project, a 311 central service that any citizen can call to get information about city services. This is requiring the consolidation of over 40 city help desks. It has involved putting together teams from all the help desks and cross training them in the knowledge necessary to at least field the first or second level of customer support. They won't be able to answer all the questions but at least they will be getting people where they need to go more quickly. They plan to offer and staff this service 24X7. Sounds a lot like Governor Leavitt's vision. Bloomberg says that it has been hard for people to change but he is confident his employees will make it work
Mostly sunny in New York today and cold. I don't think it has gotten above thirty, fifteen degrees below Salt Lake's balmy 45. Luckily I'm from this part of the country and even without checking the N.Y. forecast I automatically pack an REI hat and some winter gloves. Only my footgear is optimistic. After having set off airport alarms on a consistent basis with my metal laden hiking shoes, I made sure I had no metal on any part of me. Although I got a quick extra explosive sniff applied to my carry-on by a friendly Department of Homeland Security security officer (pardon the redundancy; it's only a good thing in IT) everything else has gone as planned.
I remember coming to NYC forty years ago, actually Long Island to be more exact, for a youth conference. I headed "downstate" from Saratoga Springs where the Astors and the Vanderbilts had their opulent summer homes, and where horses raced and trotted on the flat track and in harnesses "coming around the clubhouse turn." Although it was raining, winter was still in command and Long Island's moisture-laden wind chill blew brutally from the northeast. It made you think of your immediate need for a warmer jacket and a bowl of soup but that's another story.
I understand from the pilot the wind is kicking up a fuss as we approach so at least I'm prepared in my leather jacket that breaks both cold and the wind.
I can't remember the last time I was in "the City" but it seems a long time, ten maybe even fifteen years. I do have at least one photo though, that I took lying flat on my back, camera pointing directly up at two colossal towers. Maybe I will go out and see the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center tomorrow if the schedule works out.
I'm at the airport and on my way to NYC for the National Electronic Commerce Council http://ec3.org/annual conference (NECCC) where I will be through Friday. I found out Governor Leavitt will also be the luncheon speaker on the first day. I have heard him speak many times of course but it is always a new interesting topic. I expect there will be a lot on Homeland Security as well as other topics like payment portals. Hopefully, all will go well with the wireless card/connections etc. and I can report back to the Utah's IT Community on the some of the breakouts and sessions. See you in the "Big Apple."
One of my work assignments is as sub-domain registrar. When I started in this role last year I worked with a developer to put together an online application to request and register subdomains of utah.gov This application is now in it's third version in addition to minor tweaks. The updated registrar application (state employees access only...with single signon for local government partners this will change in the future) allows the user to add multiple DNS entries at one time without re-entering the contact information that in most cases is the same each time.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present to the Intermountain Chaper of the Association for Information and Image Management Information (AIIM). I also discovered after getting there that I had the added bonus of also speaking with the association for records administrators that held a combined meeting to hear about privacy issues. Since security and privacy go hand in hand I had both the business side of the organization and the IT side to talk with. As I promised to AIIM chapter members, you can find the PowerPoint entitled: Privacy, It's Everyone's Business posted to the website.
In light of the recent concerns expressed by IT staff, I think the causes are much broader than one might think. An interesting federal study from the Brooking Institution of what federal employees want from reform indicate some clear differences for why people go into public service. What the chart below seems to say is there is a great difference between management and line staff over what is most important from a motivational standpoint particularly if people feel job security may be threatened.
See the full study for employee opinions about how effective government reform efforts have been. It's definitely worth a browse if not a full read and is relevant to our reform efforts.
Educating Citizen's About the Benefits of Electronic Government
Over the coming weeks I will be thinking about how we might get citizens and businesses in greater numbers to use online applications. Think about this question: "What is more valuable to the state and its taxpayers: 10,000 citizens using one application or 12,000 citizens using three new online applications? I'm not claiming there is a clear cut answer but it's worth thinking about this because it may lead to different priority setting decisions.
In the e-gov field the metrics talked about here are adoption rates. What is an adoption rate? Simply put, if you take the total number of people who conduct a transaction with government over for instance a given year and divide that number into the total number of people who conduct this transaction online you come up with a % called the adoption rate for the transaction or application. Typically, internet transactions account for anywhere between about 5% of total volume at the low end and up about to 25% of total volume at the high end making most egov applications both popular and under-utilized services.
We must develop comprehensive strategies to incease adoption and not expect people to simply use an online service because we built it. One approach is educate citizens on the direct value to them of doing business online. The City of Tampa has devised a simple application called the savings estimator to remind citizens of the cost of getting into their vehicle and coming to a city agency to stand in line. This is just one tool in a whole array of strategies to drive adoption to services that have already been built.
Credit card processing fees: one barrier to Egovernment and it’s time to deal with it!
The state has been batting this issue around since 1999 and like some problems yet to be solved in government, they go through a cycle of gaining and losing momentum. The Governor has stated his opposition to credit card convenience fees for citizen services. The most onerous and high profile of these fees is the one associated with renewing your motor vehicle online.
The philosophical argument is a simple one: “Why should a person who must register their vehicle and wants to do it online be charged more than someone who wants to do it by standing in line or mailing in a paper form?”
The arguments for and against eliminating an online convenience fee:
1) The convenience fee is a barrier to people using the application;
2) If significant numbers of citizens renew online it will result in cost savings
1) The convenience fee is not a significant barrier if it is kept under $1.50-$3.00 (depending on who you talk to.)
2) It actually costs the agency more to deliver services because it simply adds another channel of interaction that must be managed.
My Recommendations and Opinion
1) Convenience fees are a significant barrier when high and a less significant barrier the closer they approach zero. I strongly support their elimination for citizen services. The quickest short-term solution is to spread these costs across all users not just Internet users. This will require legislative action to effectively accomplish this and an ad-hoc committee is working on this in earnest.
2) Convenience fees are but one of many barriers to citizen use of online applications and in and of themselves, their elimination is not a magic bullet. However, eliminating them is a step in the right direction. The ultimate goal is high adoption by the public of the Internet as a primary mechanism for their interaction with government.
3) Cost savings are positively correlated with the numbers of users who choose the Internet as their preferred interaction with government. High adoption (in excess of about 35% of the total user base) will yield cost savings in most cases.
4) Cost savings are inversely proportional to the size of the credit card charge ie. the higher the charge (average ticket in credit card jargon) the higher the utilization/adoption by the public must be to compensate for the increased credit card transaction fees.
5) The elimination of convenience fees should be accompanied by “caps” on the amount of credit card charges in the case of large tax payments. Most large charges will come from those who could use for instance an ACH transaction method as a reasonable alternative.
6) Any application that requires online payment should be set up to allow for an ACH transaction in addition to using a credit card.
7) If any convenience fees are allowed under any circumstances to be passed onto the consumer they should utilize a tiered structure for credit card fees. As an alternative to tiered structures for convenience fees, government should attempt to negotiate significantly reduced fees on large credit card payments (this would make it easier for the agency to absorb the costs). For more information, see the challenges the state of Delaware is facing. Look at what they are dealing with and you will see a possible future for Utah.
8) Every online service should develop adoption targets and strategies to meet those targets. If you are looking for efficiencies: “Adoption is the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
If we want to increase efficiencies we must increase the numbers of citizens and businesses that use each of our online applications. To do that, we need to be eliminate as many barriers as possible of which convenience fees are but one of many. What are some other barriers and how do we eliminate them. Stay tuned…that’s a whole other story, maybe one worth an article.
IT History Trivia
First "Smiley" Shows its Face
By Matt Loney
Special to CNET News.com
September 13, 2002, 5:36 AM PT
The first use of the characters :-) to signify a smile was, in a posting made on Sept. 19, 1982, by Scott E. Fahlman.
"I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)," wrote Fahlman at the time. "Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(."
The date of Sept. 19, 1982, could join other significant dates in the information revolution. The Internet is generally considered to have been created 13 years previously, almost to the day. E-mail has its origins in 1971.
Anick Jesdanun - AP Internet Writer - Sep 06, 2002 -- NEW YORK (AP) -- More than two-thirds of Americans say it's OK for government agencies to remove public information from the Internet, even though many didn't believe it would make a difference in fighting terrorism, a new study finds.
My opinion: Americans have always had conflicting opinions when it comes to public access to information. We like the access but hate how people use public information for what we consider to be the wrong reasons. Terrorism is of course the extreme, but we aren’t too happy either with having companies use public mailing lists to spam us and send us junk mail. Did you ever notice though, that junk mail is the advertising you didn’t want. If someone calls you on the phone and you really do have a cracked windshield, do you feel any differently about the person on the other end of the line?
One-Stop Business Registration
The one thing that is great about this job is that something new is always coming along to keep you active and inspired. Any of us who have been in government for more than just a few years have seen projects that seemed to just come together while others were plagued with one problem after another and never quite seemed to live up to the expectations.
I’ve been fortunate to get in on a project that is in my opinion headed in the right direction and one that I look forward to seeing come to fruition. One-stop Business Registration, as it is called promises to do some uncommon things with an uncommonly committed group of individuals who understand the importance of working together as a team to reach success.
After many months of agency staff trying to explain “in detail” the business processes of ten different local, state and federal organizations we almost have a final description (requirements document) to hand off to developers who will actually build what we all thought up together. Projects like this need a lot of talent to succeed and if any major gaps occur, projects simply grind to a halt. Different people must dream the dream, drive the process, and do the application.
So what is the dream? Well, quite simply it is to make the process of regulation easier on both the regulated and the regulator. Without, getting too far into “civics-101.edu” one of the purposes of government from the times of tribal elders to the highly complex and specialized organizations of today, has been to regulate the behaviors of individuals for the greater good of the group. Of course, many major political debates seem to center around the rights of individuals versus the will of the majority and the regulation of businesses is no exception to the rule. Although debates will continue across the political spectrum about how much or how little businesses must be regulated, what nearly all can agree on is that when we do regulate we should do our very best as public servants to make the process of regulation as painless as possible.
This is where the dream of creating Enterprise e-government projects and applications come in. If only, we could get several agencies together that register businesses for all types of reasons and get them to create a one-stop shop, the gains for individual agencies and their customers will be enormous.
What if we could take all of the agency questions that they might ask someone who wants to start a business and put that one form online to be filled out. What if once a business had filled out all these questions, and admittedly there are lots of questions, the business could then see if a business name was available, reserve that name, create the type of business they wanted ie. Sole proprietorship, S-corporation or a host of other business entities, get an identifier for tax purposes, acquire unemployment insurance for employees and apply for a business license to operate in a local community all at the same time. Wouldn't that be a dream come true? We hope so, but we won’t just hope that’s the case. We are putting in place a well-defined marketing plan including focus groups, usability testing and customer surveys to ensure this happens.
We are also removing barriers as many barriers as possible to adoption and we are in process of identifying not only what we think the barriers might be, but also doing some research into what they actually are. We are also establishing target goals for adoption both by businesses and by municipalities who must join to make expansion outside the confines of the Wasatch Front to rural Utah a reality.
So what are some dragons we are looking to “slay?” Well, in this case it was agreed that businesses would not be charged a convenience fee to use this service. There is something just not quite right about saying: “…well we’ve are going to regulate you and now we are going to charge you a convenience fee to do it online.” Of course, there are those pesky, but not insignificant credit card fees that haven’t been taken into account in the agency budgets. Hopefully, the legislature will see the wisdom of this approach, and allow agencies to receive funding to cover the credit card fees. Of course, that means unless overall state revenues go up, the fee has to come out of someone else’s budget. However, should organizations that work hard to make it easier for their customers to work with them and save their customers time, receive an incentive as opposed to a budget cut for treating their customers better than maybe another entity that doesn’t go to the trouble and instead forces people to stand in a lot of different lines? The answer seems clear to me, but I don’t get to vote on this. I just talk to those who do, with the hope of convincing them that it is in the public interest to not let credit fees become barriers to doing business in a simpler way.
Another barrier is simply not getting the word out. We are working on a marketing plan that should help with this, and it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. We can use already established communication channels set up by agencies to reach their constituents.
Still yet another barrier is more generic. Some people fear going online or supplying information over the Internet because they are worried that there information may not be secure from hackers or that information will be shared inappropriately with other parties. The committee is developing a privacy and security statement that addresses these issues in a straight-forward way.
Want to see the prototype? It is a work in progress…
OMB halts more technology projects at agencies
The Office of Management and Budget has halted $150 million in technology projects dealing with management systems at agencies slated to move into the new Homeland Security Department. http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0702/073002h1.htm
Whose Job Is IT Anyway?
Recently, the State has been doing a lot of "soul searching" and planning over how IT should be organized in the state and the opinions have been quite diverse. If you have been following Phil Windley's BLOG (August 13thth) you will notice a letter from the Governor on this topic on where the State is headed.
However, what sometimes gets obscured in these discussions is: "What are the roles that staff in a service program should play (in private sector...the "lines of business") and where do those in the IT shop come in. Clearly we are hearing that the business must "drive IT." It sounds great, but I expect many of us have different understandings of what that really means so I began thinking of something a little more precise and came up with this: "The business side should decide what to do and IT what best to buy to do it." This does NOT mean throw it over the wall to the IT shop and let them figure it out. Nor does it mean getting seduced by the latest greatest "whizz-bang-tech-gotta-have-it-now-idea" that walks through the door in form of a salesperson. To decide what to do with technology and what tools to buy requires a continuous dialogue across program areas of specialty and IT special expertise. The program/business side of the house must come away with a realistic understanding of what the technology can actually provide. An IT consultant (that person might be employed internally or externally to the organization) can help with this provided he or she is agnostic about whether or not a sale gets made. Also, the IT consultant must absolutely understand what the business is trying to accomplish and what it's needs are. She must be uncompromising about a comittment to the customer. This requires a person of special skill with a good ability to interview, listen and understand the processes of the business unit as well as understanding the technology environment and even the political environment of the State as well as the IT industry itself. To assume that this person must be an employee of an individual office, bureau or even department is ideal or advisable is in my opinion a fallacy. I have worked with people inside of divisions who should not be assigned to describe the business needs of the organization and I have met IT staff who work for private companies who know so much about the business that you would assume they worked for the division who was their customer. It's not who the person works for, it's the kind of attitude and expertise the person brings to the assignment, and no one organization has a corner on that type of expertise.
South Dakota Puts All State Forms Online
PIERRE, S.D. -- Gov. Bill Janklow unveiled a one-stop Web site last week for more than 1,100 state forms.
The South Dakota Service Direct page went live on the state's Web site last Thursday, Janklow said, allowing citizens and businesses to search for and access nearly all state forms through one Web page.
Each form on the Service Direct Web site has links to information about the form, as well as a downloadable copy for printing and mailing. In many cases, officials said, the site offers a fill-in-the-blanks style online form for direct submission to the state electronically, allowing for many state forms to be processed entirely online for immediate service.
"The goal is to reduce the hassle for people," Janklow said. "This is a no-brainer." from Government Technology Executive News Service
On this day in 1999, the NY Times ran its first piece on weblogs. Some have claimed that weblogs didn't get started until late 1999, a few months after Blogger was first deployed. This is contradicted by the Times article and an earlier one by Scott Rosenberg at Salon, in May 1999. Both pieces reported on a weblog world that was already established and growing. The first note of Blogger on Scripting News was 8/23/99. It's possible that was not its release date, but I think it was close. BTW, it's really cool that the Times and Salon both keep archives back that far. Most pubs don't. [Scripting News]