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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government 1 Vision for IT-Enabled Enhancement of Government Government expenditures on information technology (IT) are substantial. In Fiscal Year 2001, the total annual federal IT investment was roughly $44.5 billion.1 This level of spending reflects government’s great reliance on IT systems in carrying out its diverse missions. The emergence of the Internet into the mainstream, along with the growth of other electronic-commerce technologies, is fundamentally altering the environment in which government delivers services to citizens, businesses, and other government entities. These innovations in technology and business practices have given rise to the concept of “e-government,” which refers to the adoption of electronic-business practices in government. Estimates of the fraction of this spending that goes toward e-government vary, depending on what criteria are used to distinguish e-government initiatives from other IT programs. The consulting firm Gartner Group recently estimated that federal, state, and local spending on government-to-government, government-to-business, and government-to-citizen initiatives was roughly $1.5 billion in 2000 (with the projection that this sum will grow to more than $6.2 billion in 2005),2 while the 1 Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 2001. “Clinger-Cohen Act Report on Federal Information Technology Investments.” OMB, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., April 9. Available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/final53.xls>. 2 Gartner Group. 2000. “Gartner Says U.S. E-Government Spending to Surpass $6.2 Billion by 2005” (press release), April 11. Available online at <http://gartner11.gartnerweb.com/public/static/aboutgg/pressrel/pr041100c.html>.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government market research company Input estimated the current expenditures at about $7.2 billion.3 At the same time that government is seeking to apply IT in new ways to fulfill its own particular obligations, the role of government with respect to broad-based IT development and use is also shifting. In recent decades, the private sector has surpassed government leadership in many areas of IT adoption and use, even as government continues to play a critical—some would say increasingly critical—role as a principal agent for long-term IT basic research and innovation. Much like their counterparts in the private sector, many in government are actively experimenting with the harnessing of new Internet and other information technologies to improve operations and the delivery of services. A wide range of ideas is emerging from these experiments, contributing to technology development, the improvement of business practices, a more streamlined government, and a more sophisticated public. Traditionally, formal paper-based information dissemination was undertaken by specialized document-distribution services such as the Government Printing Office and the National Technical Information Service. With the rise of the World Wide Web, agency-specific sites that provide access to a range of documents and databases have been developed over the past several years. Complementing the development of Web sites available through the Internet, agencies such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) have also developed kiosk systems, using Web technology, to provide access to information resources in public locations. The federal government now offers a number of information portals, which aggregate and present government information for access by customers in particular “market segments” (such as students, workers, or senior citizens) and provide links to commonly performed transactions. In 2000, a federal governmentwide portal, firstgov.gov, which provides a search engine across federal Web sites along with a directory of commonly used sites and services, was launched;4 a number of other, more targeted, federal portals also exist (see Box 1.1). With these efforts, a rapidly increasing corpus of government-gener- 3 William Mathews. 2000. “E-gov Leads IT Spending Forecast.” Federal Computer Week, December 8. Available online at <http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2000/1204/web-egov-12-08-00.asp>. 4 Generally hailed as a promising next step, the Web site is not without controversy. Concerns include the management structure and relationship between the private foundation responsible for the search engine component and whether the search engine returns the most relevant, useful results.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government ated information is available directly to users via the Internet, and IT is being exploited to deliver government services in new ways, including the use of the Internet to conduct transactions that previously required postal mail or an in-person visit. Indeed, various agencies and programs were early adopters of Web technology, and some level of online presence, albeit with varying degrees of sophistication, is the norm for government today at the federal and state levels. At the same time, inputs received by the Committee on Computing and Communications Research to Enable Better Use of Information Technology in Government, over the course of two workshops and during additional discussions with informed individuals, suggest that the federal government generally continues to lag behind the private sector both in adopting present-day technology and in addressing its own special needs. The committee’s in-depth examinations of two areas— federal statistics and crisis management—suggest that while a good deal of experimentation is occurring and considerable experience is being gained in implementing a range of sophisticated capabilities, many systems significantly lag behind the state of the art. For example, the committee’s consideration of the federal statistical agencies revealed that while fedstats.gov, coordinated by the Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy, was of one of the earliest implementations of interagency portals, there was also an instance in which the Bureau of the Census had only recently retired an obsolete Univac computer system. The inquires of the committee also revealed cases of government bodies having very specific technology needs that have not been adequately addressed. These include, for example, software to support the complex surveys administered by the federal statistical agencies and a number of crisis- and consequence-management applications. According to a recent report from the National Association of State Information Resource Executives, many states have also made the transition from presenting a simple directory of agencies to a portal design in which available information is organized around the needs of specific user segments. Several states planned to develop portals in partnership with an outside vendor, with an expectation that the vendor would be compensated through transaction fees.5 A number of these portals represent a fairly mature realization of present-day information-access technology, but considerable scope for improvement remains. Box 1.2 provides several examples of state e-government services. 5 National Association of State Information Resource Executives (NASIRE). 2000. Preliminary Survey of the Digital Government Landscape. NASIRE, Lexington, Kentucky. Available online at <http://www.nasire.org/publications/digital_government_report_2000.pdf>.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government Box 1.1 Examples of Federal Government Information Portals FirstGov <www.firstgov.gov>. The portal FirstGov was established as a joint project of the federal government and the private FedSearch Foundation, which over-sees the site’s search engine. Funded in 2001 and 2002 from the General Services Administration (GSA) and 22 federal agencies, FirstGov is managed by GSA’s Office of FirstGov.1 The Web site provides a search engine that uses an index of Web pages government wide as well as a directory of commonly accessed information resources and services. Access America for Seniors <www.seniors.gov>. A government information portal dedicated to the needs of seniors, Access America for Seniors exemplifies a site that attempts to make the resources of multiple agencies available to a particular user group. It was developed through the cooperation of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) and several other interested organizations, including the Social Security Administration, the Administration on Aging, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Association of Retired Persons. Access America for Students <www.students.gov>. As with Access America for Seniors, Access America for Students was created to serve a specialized group of users. Developed and maintained through the cooperation of NPR and the U.S. Department of Education, the site offers links to information about planning an education, financial aid, career development, community service, travel, military service, and more. It also contains an array of links to legislative, executive, and judicial Web sites. FedStats <www.fedstats.gov>. FedStats is maintained by the Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy to provide users with easy access to the full range of statistics and information produced by more than 70 participating government agencies.2 Funding is provided by in-kind donations of services and small contributions from 12 federal statistical agencies to support hardware and software procurement and dedicated manpower. Participating agencies host their own statistics on their own servers; FedStats provides an efficient gateway to their information. For instance, if one selects the Crime link in the subject index, FedStats forwards the user to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics Web Site. Also, FedStats contains a feature called MapStats, through which users can locate statistical information about particular U.S. states or counties by clicking on a series of maps. U.S. Consumer Gateway <www.consumer.gov>. U.S. Consumer Gateway was created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the FTC continues to maintain it with the participation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The 1 For more on the history, funding, and management of Firstgov, see <http://www.firstgov.gov/About.shtml>. 2 See <http://www.fedstats.gov/agencies> for a full list of participating agencies.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government site is designed so that users can locate government consumer-related information by category (Food, Health, Product Safety, Money, Transportation, and so forth). Each category has further subcategories to direct users to areas within individual federal Web sites containing related information. For instance, the Product Safety category includes links to product information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the FTC, among others. Code Talk <www.codetalk.fed.us>. Code Talk is a federal interagency Native American Web site that provides access to a wide range of information for Native American communities. It is hosted by the Office of Native American Programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Code Talk contains sections concerning “current issues” and “key topics” among Native Americans, and major subject areas include housing, health, the arts, children, and the environment. Within these broad areas, users will find links to relevant government agencies and programs. Selecting the link to environmental information, for instance, takes users to the major source of government information on this topic—the American Indian Environmental Office (<http://www.epa.gov/indian>) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The site also contains links to a host of other federal Web sites (e.g., the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Government Accounting Office, and the Office of Management and Budget) and provides links to other resources and tools, including information on training and employment, laws, and taxes. The Federal Commons <www.cfda.gov/federalcommons>. The Federal Commons is an Internet grants-management portal serving the grantee organization community. Coordinated through the Inter-Agency Electronic Grants Committee,3 the site is working toward offering all grantees (state and local governments, universities, small businesses, and so on) full-service grants-processing across all functions in the grant life cycle. The site’s main feature is a subject-oriented directory to grants information; the subject categories include Agriculture, Health, Business and Commerce, Energy, and Natural Resources, among others. These broad categories are further subdivided into topics under which links to relevant grant information (generally hosted on another organization’s Web site) are listed. In the future, the Federal Commons plans to expand its Grant Transactions section to offer the capability to search for grant-funding opportunities across the federal government, and to apply for and report on federal grants. Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) <www.fedbizopps.gov>. FedBiz Opps (formerly known as the Electronic Posting System) is a governmentwide Internet-based information system for announcing government acquisitions. It serves industry vendors by allowing them to search for government acquisition opportunities. It also serves government buyers by providing them with the capability to post solicitations on the Internet. The site was designed to be a single entry point for vendors to search government acquisition opportunities across all departments and agencies. The project was begun as a joint effort of the General Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, among others. 3 See <http://www.financenet.gov/iaegc.htm> for further information about the Inter-Agency Electronic Grants Committee.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government Box 1.2 Examples of State Online Activities For Citizens Texas. The Web site of the State Office of the Attorney General allows citizens to file consumer complaints with the office electronically. Individuals simply submit an online form with all the necessary information (e.g., contact information for both parties, a statement of the complaint, and a description of what the citizen thinks would be an acceptable resolution) to begin the complaint-resolution process. The system also allows users to submit copies of scanned supporting documents (in TIF format) via e-mail.1 Illinois. The state offers citizens the capability to file their state income taxes online through the state’s Web site. The advertised benefits to filing tax forms in this manner include faster processing of refunds (10 days), accuracy (as the system does all the calculations), and availability of the system 24 hours a day.2 New York. The Department of Motor Vehicles allows citizens to purchase vanity and custom license plates online, as well as to submit registration renewals. One can search the department’s database to check whether or not the desired combination of letters, numbers, or spaces is available, and then purchase the plate online with a credit or debit card. The site even features a rendering of what the user’s plate will look like with the chosen characters.3 For Businesses Washington. In March 1999, the state launched a system through which businesses (some of which must pay on a monthly basis) can pay their excise taxes 1 See <http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/complain.htm>. 2 See <http://www.revenue.state.il.us/electronicservices/ifilefacts00.html>. 3 See <http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/cplates.htm>. This range of experience exists in local government as well; a substantial fraction of municipal and county governments have established some sort of online presence.6 Still, the committee’s examination of crisis management suggests that while some local governments are in a position to lead in the use of IT, there is large variation among them with respect to 6 A survey conducted for the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA) found that among the roughly half of municipal and county governments that responded, more than 80 percent had established Web sites. See Donald F. Norris, Patricia D. Fletcher, and Stephen H. Holden. 2001. “Is Your Local Government Plugged In? High
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government technology capabilities. For some, both financial and IT-management resources are very limited. Altogether, hundreds of e-government initiatives are taking place at the federal level alone. A recent survey found that most federal departments and agencies were engaged in such activities, and more than 1,300 initiatives were reported. Nearly 50 percent were identified as delivering online. The Web-based Electronic Filing (ELF) system offers users a fast, simple, customizable, and accurate way to calculate and pay the tax they owe. Using detailed help screens, the system guides users through the appropriate filing processes, eliminating the need for tax filers to wade through large amounts of irrelevant information. The system also offers the capability to postdate filings and payments to better accommodate users’ schedules. Payment of taxes is accomplished through the use of an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) debit arrangement between the user’s bank and the Department of Revenue’s bank.4 California. The California Business Portal,5 an initiative of California’s secretary of state, provides information for users who are starting business entities, and it allows them to file related information with the state online. Intended as a “one-stop shop,” the site provides access to information on filing requirements and various state forms, and it combines resources from several government agencies and private sector organizations. One of the site’s main features is a step-by-step guide to starting a business, offering suggestions on everything from selecting a name for the business to formulating a business plan; a detailed checklist to help users manage each step of the business creation process is provided as well. Among the site’s more advanced features is a pilot project that gives businesses the capability to file their corporate “statement of officers” form electronically using a secure server and a credit card. The site also allows users to search through existing corporate records. A link to CalGOLD, <www.calgold.ca.gov>, another California state Web site that presents businesses with information on permits and other requirements of California agencies at all levels of government—including addresses, telephone numbers, and links to agency Internet Web pages—is also provided.6 4 See <http://dor.wa.gov/index.asp?/elf/elfcontent.htm>. 5 See <http://www.ss.ca.gov/business/business.htm>. 6 For more information, see <http://www.ss.ca.gov/executive/press_releases/2001/01-006.htm>. lights of the 2000 Electronic Government Survey” (prepared for ICMA by Public Technology Inc., University of Maryland, Baltimore County), February 27. Available online at <http://www.icma.org/download/cat15/grp120/sgp224/E-Gov2000.pdf>.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government information and services to citizens and about 85 percent as making use of the Web.7 In this shift toward e-government, commercial third parties are also playing an important role. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accepts electronic tax returns through tax-preparation software vendors. Still, the opportunities and challenges associated with using IT in government are just starting to be addressed. And as IT innovation in the private sector continues apace, the gap between private sector and government practices appears to be growing. Congressional hearings, reports of the federal Chief Information Officers Council, agency analyses, and similar activities at the state level attest that governments are aggressively exploring how to shape their policies and practices to leverage IT technologies most effectively and to stimulate ongoing innovation and experimentation. For example, the federal government recently established a new central point of responsibility for information technology within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Following September 11, 2001, government efforts in information collection, aggregation, and analysis may well expand on a number of fronts, placing corresponding demands for enhancement and flexibility on institutional IT capabilities. At the same time, analyses such as those from the General Accounting Office (GAO) have raised questions about the management and execution of a number of IT programs.8 This report examines several questions related to IT research and the use of information technologies in government operations. These questions are raised primarily from the perspective of the relationship between IT research and government IT applications. The aim is to identify approaches that support government in building e-business capabilities analogous to those being developed in the private sector, and in advancing government IT applications such as crisis management and federal statistics. In keeping with its charge from the sponsoring agency, the committee emphasizes in its report the role of IT research, how to structure fruitful interactions between government and the IT research community, and how the research community can help address the leading challenges of e-government. The committee recognizes, however, that a 7 From a summary prepared by the General Services Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Solutions, of its E-Gov Initiatives Inventory. Summary is available online at <http://www.policyworks.gov/intergov/OIS-EGovInventory.htm>, and the inventory database is online at <http://www.policyworks.gov/intergov>. 8 See, for example, Government Accounting Office (GAO), 2001, Electronic Government: Challenges Must Be Addressed with Effective Leadership and Management (GAO-01-959T), GAO, Washington, D.C., July 11.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government significant part of the e-government challenge relates to management and implementation challenges associated with deploying today’s technologies in government.9 But engagement with researchers offers government an opportunity to better understand where opportunities for innovation lie and to observe and influence the development of the technologies—providing insights that can help government cope with management and implementation challenges. The scope of this report includes characterization of research needs and opportunities, identification of pertinent research topics, consideration of research-management methods and technology-transition approaches, and aspects of government IT practice that affect the delivery of e-government services. While the focus of the report is the role of the federal government, most of the ideas discussed could apply equally well to state and local governments.10 The committee also expects that the benefits resulting from the federal government’s involvement in and support of IT innovation will likewise apply to all levels of government. ELEMENTS OF THE VISION Stimulated in large part by widespread adoption of the Internet and the associated phenomenon of electronic commerce, a broad consensus has emerged in the past several years that governments at all levels can exploit IT to deliver information and services more efficiently and to make 9 The General Accounting Office (GAO) has written numerous reports related to more immediate implementation challenges associated with e-government programs. See, for example, GAO, 2001, Electronic Government: Challenges Must Be Addressed with Effective Leadership and Management (GAO-01-959T), GAO, Washington, D.C., July 11. Academic work examining these challenges includes work by the Strategic Computing Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (e.g., Jerry Mechling and Thomas M. Fletcher, 1996, Information Technology and Government: The Need for New Leadership, May), the Center for Technology in Government at the State University of New York at Albany (e.g., Sharon S. Dawes et al., 1999, Four Realities of IT Innovation in Government, Center for Technology in Government, Albany, N.Y.), and the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations (CRITO) at the University of California at Irvine (e.g., Kenneth L. Kraemer and Jason Dedrick, 1996, “Computing and Public Organizations,” Working Paper #URB-092, CRITO, Irvine, Calif.). 10 That research efforts should encompass state and local as well as federal e-government innovation was underscored in Sharon Dawes, Peter Bloniarz, Kristine L. Kelly, and Patricia D. Fletcher, 1999, Some Assembly Required: Building a Digital Government for the 21st Century, Center for Technology in Government, State University of New York at Albany, March.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government improvements in other functional areas. The nature of these opportunities and challenges has been considered by government bodies, advisory groups, information technology consulting firms, and the like. Box 1.3 lists several of these. Some express the grand view that IT is a principal means for fundamentally reshaping government and democracy, while others focus more on shorter-term opportunities—to enhance the services delivered to citizens and to facilitate enhanced interactions between citizens and government. Somewhere between these two views, there appears to be a general consensus that e-government is a means to such ends as a more informed and engaged citizenry and a more responsive, efficient, and accountable government. This vision can be captured in terms of a set of generally accepted elements or basic goals. These elements, which underlie the arguments and technical agenda presented in this report and are described below, include the following: Satisfying customer service expectations, Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations, Providing effective access to information, Providing access to a full range of transactions online, Increasing participation in government, Meeting expectations for trustworthiness, and Meeting special challenges in government-unique areas. Presented in Appendix A are several specific scenarios developed by the committee to illustrate the potential impact of e-government on the daily lives of individuals. In keeping with the general wisdom that IT should be developed and deployed with all users in mind (internal employees, vendors, and customers), this report considers IT requirements and research needs across each of these user groups. Satisfying Expectations for Customer Service Business features such as telephone-calling centers and e-business technologies have given rise to high expectations. Many consumer services are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week or can be used asynchronously via e-mail and Web communications (that is, with no need for round-the-clock staffing by the service provider). Thus government services, at the very least, are also expected to overcome barriers of time and distance and to be customer-oriented. One element of responsiveness includes providing citizens with en-
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government Box 1.3 A Sampling of E-Government Objectives Goals Contained in the Chief Information Officers Council FY 2001 Strategic Plan1 Goal 1. All Citizens Connected to the Products, Services, and Information of Their Government Goal 2. Interoperable and Innovative Government-Wide IT Initiatives Goal 3. A Secure and Reliable Information Infrastructure that the Customer Can Access and Trust Goal 4. IT Skills and Resources to Meet Mission Objectives Goal 5. Collaborations Between the Public and Private Sector to Achieve Better Government Guiding Principles Developed by the E-Government Excellence Initiative of the Council for Excellence in Government2 What should e-government be? Easy to use Available to everyone Private and secure Innovative and results-oriented Collaborative Cost-effective Transformational E-Government Objective Outlined in the Bush Administration’s 2002 Budget Blueprint3 Use the Internet to Create a Citizen-Centric Government: The explosive growth of the Internet has transformed the relationship between customers and businesses. It is also transforming the relationship between citizens and government. By enabling individuals to penetrate the federal bureaucracy to access information and transact business, the Internet promises to shift power from a handful of leaders in Washington to individual citizens. The president believes that providing access to information and services is only the first step in e-government. In order to make government truly “citizen-centered,” agencies will have to work together to consolidate similar functions around the needs of citizens and businesses. Citizen-centered government will use the Internet to bring about transformational change: agencies will conduct transactions with the public along secure Web-enabled systems that use portals to link common applications and protect privacy, which will give citizens the ability to go online and interact with their government—and with their state and local governments that provide similar information and services—around citizen preferences and not agency boundaries. 1 Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council. 2000. “Strategic Plan: Fiscal Year 2001-2002.” CIO Council, Washington, D.C. October. Available online at <http://www.cio.gov>. 2 Council for Excellence in Government. 2001. “e-government: The Next American Revolution,” Washington, D.C., p. 5. Available online at <http://www.excelgov.org/techcon/egovex/index.htm>. 3 Executive Office of the President (EOP). 2001. A Blueprint for New Beginnings: A Responsible Budget for America’s Priorities. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., February 28, Section IX, Government Reform. Available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/usbudget/blueprint/budix.html>.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government limited by confidentiality rules and other considerations (regarding classified, proprietary, and other sensitive information). It is useful to classify access to government information in three categories, each of which entails different technical requirements: Effective access to public information. Online presence or searchability of information is only a first step. “Effective” means that tools and capabilities exist to allow relevant targets to be located in the wealth of government-supplied information. It should be possible to search for appropriate information and resources across government agencies and levels of government without the boundaries being apparent. Access by individuals to information about themselves. Citizens should be able to review and request revision of personal information with the assurance that only authorized people have access to their records. For example, individuals might examine their own social security and tax records or uniformly update contact information, but this information should be kept private from people other than authorized government personnel. Specialized access to government-gathered or government-held information, under controlled circumstances. For example, administrative and statistical data are made available to researchers with the aid of technical and nontechnical measures that limit the disclosure of confidential data. Providing Access to a Full Range of Transactions Online Citizen and business interaction with government involves an enormous number of different transactions. Many fall into the categories of “very simple” (e.g., purchase a publication) or “routine” (e.g., renewing a car registration or filing a tax return), but interactions with government cover a broad range of complexity. The long-term vision expressed by many (and called for in the Government Paperwork Elimination Act of 1998; see more details in the subsection “E-Government Policy Initiatives” in this chapter) is to make it possible to conduct all government business online. This involves more than simply converting all existing systems into electronic ones, which alone would be a substantial undertaking, given the myriad functions that government supports. Indeed, a key element of the e-government vision is to provide one-stop portals that integrate across multiple government agencies and levels of government. The goal is to allow users to interact with a wide range of government agencies and officials in seamless fashion, with interactions based on function rather than on organizational details. This can help free users of government services from the daunting task of tracking all government agencies with which they must interact in order to com-
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government ply, say, with business regulations or tax-reporting requirements. Another aspect of this goal is that users avoid having to re-enter information across multiple transactions or sessions. Such elimination of redundancy is not a trivial issue for the user; consider, for instance, how much of income tax reporting involves copying data from one form to another. Nor is the goal trivial for government to implement. Achieving it will, for example, depend heavily on improving capabilities for protecting privacy, integrating or establishing appropriate authentication capabilities, and providing other safeguards with respect to access to government-held information. Increasing Participation in Government Information technology is also a way of providing new means for interactions between citizens and governments—both to improve the interactions and to engage people who have not participated in the past. Providing facilities for enhanced interaction does not ensure greater participation, but it is a logical and fundamental step. At the simplest level, such facilities involve e-mail, Web forms, or chat systems to complement the usual mail and telephone channels for communicating with government offices and officials (people might use such means to comment on proposed decisions, inquire about the status of a pending action, and the like). Long-term, the vision extends to enabling new structures that permit greater dialog and more direct involvement with the decision-making process: how can citizens communicate with government officials and with each other to support effective and informed governance? This goal also includes enhancing the electoral process (e.g., by decreasing barriers to voting), while maintaining and improving the accuracy and trustworthiness of elections. Meeting Expectations for Trustworthiness It is widely acknowledged that preserving public confidence in the security of government systems is a cornerstone of effective e-government. This was a recurring theme in the workshops convened by the committee and in discussions with individuals within and outside government. The challenge is how to accomplish this goal while expanding and easing access in a rapidly evolving Internet and personal-computing infrastructure. Information requests and transactions often involve the exchange of sensitive information—between individuals and government, between private organizations and government, within government, and among governments at different levels. Protecting the privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of this information against unauthorized disclosure
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government or modification is essential. At the same time, government systems are subject to attack, whether by hackers, terrorists, or nations, which dictates serious attention to information-systems security. With increasing attention to critical infrastructure protection, government interest in trustworthiness will continue to span both government and private sector systems. Meeting Special Challenges in Government-Unique Areas For many services, government can build on technologies and processes, already established in the e-business marketplace, that have lowered the barrier for organizations seeking to establish an electronic presence. Most commercial efforts, however, address broadly identified market needs that may not satisfy the requirements of government applications. Such requirements include providing for exceedingly stringent precautions (e.g., for national security or for protecting individual tax records), providing for indefinite persistence of certain archival records (such as those retained by the National Archives), and providing ubiquitous accessibility to certain critical government services (related to social security records, for example). The committee explored two areas—federal statistics and crisis management—in which a number of government-unique requirements are concentrated. Each was considered through an in-depth workshop that brought together domain specialists, particularly those serving in operational roles, with IT experts. (Detailed results of these workshops were published in two separate volumes; 11 the conclusions drawn in this report build on those results.) In both cases, the committee found that specific government-unique requirements presented a mix of longer-term research challenges and shorter-term, more-applied R&D challenges. TECHNICAL AND PROCESS CHALLENGES TO ADVANCING E-GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS While in many instances e-government programs can simply build on existing technology and e-business practices, in some areas government leads in demand for IT. Chapter 2, “Special Considerations in E-Govern- 11 For further details, see Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), National Research Council (NRC), 1999, Summary of a Workshop on Information Technology Research for Crisis Management, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.; and CSTB, NRC, 2000, Summary of a Workshop on Information Technology Research for Federal Statistics, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government ment,” discusses several specific mission areas for which this is true; Chapter 3, “Technology Levers,” discusses a number of more generic research areas where IT capabilities could enhance e-government programs. As an illustration of the sorts of technical challenges that arise with more aggressive e-government programs, this report considers what is needed to extend interactions with government from information delivery to support for transactions—consolidated services (sometimes known as portals) that enable citizens, businesses, and other government entities to provide information to or engage in financial transactions with multiple government organizations. Some agency Web sites already support a variety of basic transactions with citizens, many analogous to those offered by e-commerce sites. Systems that permit residents to renew driver’s licenses and vehicle registration online have been a common area of state focus, reflecting the services’ near-ubiquity, the relief from the hassle associated with traditional renewal at state motor-licensing bureaus, and the relative ease of implementing these systems. Building interagency portals presents numerous technical and management challenges, including these: A legacy of information systems supporting numerous government functions, many of which were not designed for interoperability with other systems or for Web-based access (a challenge not unique to government); Interoperation challenges arising from working across organizational stovepipes; Rules constraining the nature of information sharing across government agencies and programs; Funding new online systems while maintaining existing ones; Difficulties in identifying and maintaining funding for what are inherently cross-agency activities; and Resolving technical issues—such as protocol design, information representation, and security and authentication measures—associated with interfaces that would enable third parties to operate portal sites that interact with government services on behalf of citizens and businesses, permitting third parties to use software that directly connects their own information systems with government services. Areas of innovation and continuing technical challenge extend well beyond the more visible information and transaction portals. For example, although government has historically provided a great deal of data in electronic form—sometimes directly to the public in easy-to-use formats and sometimes in more esoteric formats that only a few special-
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government ized contractors can use—one area of current exploration relates to technology for supporting third-party provision of e-government information and services. The relative roles of the government and private sectors in relation to providing data and information products have long been a subject of controversy. This report does not take a position in this debate, but the committee does note that it would be possible to provide capabilities that more easily permit nongovernment parties (commercial or non-commercial) to provide access to government information and services. Complementing more traditional electronic data interchange technology for interactions between government and larger businesses and organizations, a number of systems for online procurement and grant or contract processing have been rolled out. Finally, there are challenges associated with increasing intragovernment information management and collaboration and with performing such functions across levels of government. In these realms, technical issues such as confidentiality, data integrity, and information management also present significant obstacles. WHY NOW? Multiple factors have driven expectations that governments will aggressively exploit IT. The most obvious of these factors is the widespread adoption of technology and related practices in the commercial sector, contrasted with their less pervasive though growing adoption in government. On the demand side, use of the Internet (and other information technology) among the general population has resulted in a rising level of comfort and familiarity with the technologies in other contexts; this fuels expectations that governments will provide services analogous to those in the commercial sector. This growing demand is mirrored in a series of policy initiatives and legislative efforts. Technology Foundations for E-Government in Place The recent and rapid growth in e-business is the direct result of two mutually reinforcing factors: (1) a number of technologies reaching points of maturity, scale, and usability at which they can be incorporated directly into the infrastructure of commerce (and government); and (2) the emergence of business practices that can effectively employ these technologies to advantage. A brief review of these technological underpinnings is useful from two perspectives: (1) it illustrates the role that past research efforts have played in providing the foundation for today’s e-commerce and e-government, and (2) it illustrates the multitude of technologies that have come together to permit e-commerce and e-government systems to be built.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government The most visible technology supporting e-business is the Internet, which has quickly made the transition from research network to critical societal infrastructure. The Internet provides a near-ubiquitous, general-purpose interface across diverse communications links and multiple computing platforms. The World Wide Web, built on top of the Internet, provides hyperlinking among information resources and a uniform user interface for accessing resources located throughout the network. But behind the Web interface, which together with e-mail is the way that most end users experience e-business, lie a number of information technologies that have been developed incrementally over periods of years or even decades. Examples include these: Distributed-processing technologies that support scaling up to very large numbers of users; Approaches to facilitating data interchange, including mediator and wrapper techniques (which allow legacy systems to be integrated into newer systems) and the Web-inspired XML standard for describing data; Capabilities for remote service invocation across the network, which are currently being developed and standardized; Safe mobile code capabilities, which enable code to be downloaded and run on end-user computing platforms; Database/transaction capabilities, most notably the development of reliable, large-scale relational databases (and more recent object extensions); capabilities for ensuring integrity and consistency of databases; and the emergence of a standard language, SQL, for querying databases; Multimedia technologies, including techniques for compressing audio and video, that support streaming or downloaded content and real-time interactions; Graphical Web browsers, which made Internet services accessible to general users and across a wide range of hardware and software platforms; Search engines, including indexing, query interfaces, and spiders that build indexes of Web content; Data mining, which allows patterns to be inferred and relevant data to be identified from very large data sets; Improved understanding of human-computer interface issues, ranging from page layout and navigation design to e-commerce transaction support and online collaboration; Public-key and other cryptographic security capabilities that provide confidentiality and integrity of in-transit and stored data, nonrepudiation of transactions, and the like; and Other security capabilities, including authentication of users, network monitoring, and intrusion detection.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government Growing Awareness and Demand Confirmation of growing public interest comes from a January 2001 Hart-Teeter poll conducted by the Council for Excellence in Government, which found that about three-quarters of Americans believed e-government should be a top priority for the then-incoming Bush administration; and from market research by Deloitte Consulting that projected significant growth in customer demand over the next two years.12 Actual demand has also been growing, as illustrated by the inclusion of the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site, <www.irs.gov>, in Jupiter Media Metrix’s February 2001 “Top 50 Web Sites” ranking.13 With image and economic development at stake, competition among governments at the state and local levels to deliver improved services is high, a point emphasized by the then-director of the Washington State Department of Information Services, Steven Kolodney, in his remarks to the committee. Internationally, a number of other nations are developing and deploying e-government services. These efforts are at varying levels of maturity, with the more advanced featuring national e-government portals designed to offer a single point of access to both information resources and transactions.14 As these pressures result in more services being deployed, conflicting demands will arise for increased reliability; for anywhere, anytime, any-device access; for accuracy and timeliness of information; and for privacy and security of confidential information (these trade-offs are discussed in Chapter 2, “Special Considerations in E-Government”). Finally, interest in e-government is also driven by the desire to increase efficiency in government. Ever-present budgetary pressures, especially on the so-called discretionary portion of the federal budget, have prompted legislators and those in the executive branch alike to seek ways 12 Deloitte Consulting and Deloitte and Touche. 2000. At the Dawn of e-Government: The Citizen as Customer, March 1. For more information, see <http://www.deloitte.com/vc/0,1323,sid=2228&ar=&cid=3446,00.html>. 13 Jupiter Media Metrix. 2001. “Jupiter Media Metrix Announces U.S. Top 50 Web and Digital Media Properties for February 2001” (press release). Available online at <http://www.jmm.com/xp/jmm/press/2001/pr_031301.xml>. 14 For example, building on earlier efforts to make information and forms available online, France launched its <mon.service-public.fr> portal in late 2001. Development is slated to continue through 2005. See Rory Mulholland. 2001. “French Bureaucracy Takes Online Leap.” BBC News, November 14. Available online at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1655000/1655820.stm>.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government of leveraging information technology to decrease the costs of providing customer service and administering government programs.15 E-Government Policy Initiatives With growing awareness of e-government, it is becoming a focus of legislation. Building on the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, enacted to decrease burdens on the public from information collection and reporting requirements, and on its subsequent amendments, the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) of 1998 (P.L. 105-277) requires federal agencies to provide individuals or other entities the options of submitting information to or transacting with the agency electronically and of maintaining records electronically when practicable. The legislation sets a target date of 2003 for implementation throughout the federal government. GPEA provides that electronic records and their related electronic signatures not be denied validity merely because they are in electronic form, and it encourages the federal government to use a range of electronic signature alternatives. The Clinger-Cohen Act of 199616 shifted responsibility for IT acquisition from the General Services Administration to individual agencies. It established the role of chief information officer (CIO) in executive-branch agencies—giving the CIOs both strategic and operational responsibility for all IT programs—and it gave the Office of Management and Budget responsibility for setting overall policies and reviewing agency IT programs through the budget process. A number of additional legislative measures have helped propel e-government. For example, the FY 1999 Department of Defense Authorization Act requires DOD to establish a defensewide electronic system for ordering supplies and materials, and the Electronic Benefit Transfer Interoperability and Portability Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-171) requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a national standard for electronic 15 While this effect is widely accepted as an article of faith, economists have struggled to substantiate it. In recent years, some economists have reported that this failure may have been an artifact of the measures selected. For instance, some of them may not have adequately captured any productivity growth manifested in increased output quality rather than quantity. There is a general sense that productivity depends on careful execution of IT programs, often in conjunction with business-process changes. This issue is discussed in CSTB, NRC, 1993, Information Technology in the Service Society: A Twenty-First Century Lever, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.; and CSTB, NRC, 1998, Fostering Research on the Social and Economic Impacts of Information Technology, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 16 Formally, the Information Technology Management Reform Act (P.L. 104-106).
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government food-stamp benefit transactions. A series of hearings on e-government issues were held in the 106th Congress, and new e-government legislation has been under consideration in the current, 107th Congress. Legislative proposals being actively considered as of this writing include establishment of a fund for innovative cross-agency IT programs. The executive branch has also been the locus of a number of initiatives aimed at advancing e-government. The Clinton administration initiative called the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (originally named the National Performance Review, or NPR), which had the stated goal of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of government, placed considerable emphasis on leveraging information technology in meeting that goal. The Access America initiative, in part an outgrowth of NPR activities, included several instances of cross-agency collaboration and resulted in the establishment of several targeted portals aimed at particular population segments. Executive branch policy making with respect to e-government has included a presidential memorandum that called on federal agencies to, among other things, make available online by the end of 2000 the forms associated with the top 500 government services. This action resulted in the implementation of the Web site <www.fedforms.gov>.17 Another offshoot of the NPR initiative was the Information Technology Innovation Fund (ITIF), which was operated from 1995 to 2000, expiring with the end of the Federal Telephone System-2000 (FTS-2000) program. Funded through a 1 percent set-aside from FTS-2000 charges assessed to agencies, the ITIF provided about $30 million for some 70 programs.18 A 1996 executive order established the Chief Information Officers Council, an organization of CIOs of the largest 28 federal agencies and two representatives of the smaller agencies, to address IT issues on a governmentwide basis.19 In addition to setting up an e-government committee in 2000, the CIO Council worked on a variety of issues that 17 Executive Office of the President. 1999. “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (Subject: Electronic Government).” December 17. Available online at <http://www.govexec.com/links/121799memo.htm>. 18 Projects were selected by a committee of representatives from the interagency body advising the General Services Administration on the Federal Telecommunications System (the Interagency Management Council) and another interagency IT group (the Government Interagency Technology Services Board). Gayle Gordon. 2000. “Information Technology Innovation in the Federal Government” (unpublished). 19 Executive Office of the President (EOP). 1996. Executive Order 13011. EOP, Washington, D.C.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government included Y2K, privacy and security, governmentwide strategic planning, and a number of shorter-term problems. Attention to e-government has continued in the Bush administration. The president’s 2002 budget blueprint includes a small e-government fund for interagency initiatives, with a proposed budget of $10 million in 2002 and total of $100 million over 3 years. The president’s proposal would have the fund allocations made by OMB.20 In October 2001, OMB, with the approval of the President’s Management Council, identified 23 priority cross-agency e-government projects.21 The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001,22 which is replete with new IT programs and initiatives in such areas as border security, immigration, and airline security, underscores the critical role that IT capabilities are seen as playing in homeland security efforts. In 2002, OMB released a report, which builds on the work of a federal task force convened in 2001, that maps out an e-government strategy and identifies priorities for implementation.23 GOVERNMENT IT RESEARCH FOR ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT IT research and development programs exist across the federal government, and many agencies have development programs aimed at creating e-government capabilities. The Digital Government program, an initiative of the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate, is a program that supports research at the intersection of the IT research community and the operational needs of the government. It aims to help agencies improve internal, interagency, and intergovernmental operations and government-citizen interactions. In particular, the program supports joint research programs between academic researchers and government agencies and requires that 20 See Executive Office of the President. 2001. A Blueprint for New Beginnings: A Responsible Budget for America’s Priorities. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., February 28. Available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/usbudget/blueprint/budtoc.html>. 21 Diane Frank. 2001. “OMB Sets E-Gov Agenda.” Federal Computer Week, October 29. Available online at <http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2001/1029/news-omb-10-29-01.asp>. 22 Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act) of 2001, P.L. 107-56. 23 Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 2002. E-Government Strategy: Simplified Delivery of Services to Citizens (Implementing the President’s Management Agenda for E-Government). OMB, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., February 27. Available online at <http://www.cio.gov/Documents/egovreport.pdf>.
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Information Technology Research, Innovation, and E-Government at least one government agency be a partner. It encompasses work at the federal, state, local, and international levels. Partner agencies are expected to contribute resources to the collaborative efforts, with the expectation that the program’s funding will increasingly leverage additional resources from participating agencies.24 Launched in 1998, the Digital Government program has issued grants totaling roughly $30 million to fund more than two dozen research projects and a number of planning grants and exploratory workshops. Funded proposals involve more than 30 federal departments and agencies, some 60 universities and nonprofit organizations, and a handful of commercial firms, and have attracted more than $4 million in matching support from the participating government agencies.25 Stimulated in part by the availability of federal and state research support, several university-based research centers examining e-government issues have been established. An offshoot of the Digital Government program is the Digital Government Consortium, a grouping of agencies partnering with IT researchers and/or interested in pursuing future research collaborations. Among other activities it publishes “DG Online,” a quarterly that presents news on digital-government developments and related IT research, and maintains the Web site <www.diggov.org>. Another offshoot of the NSF program is an e-government fellows program conducted by the Council for Excellence in Government that is intended to help create awareness of the strategic benefits of and opportunities for collaborating with the academic research community on the part of mid-level government program managers. In addition, the Interagency Working Group on Information Technology R&D has established a program, called the Federal Information Services and Applications Council (FISAC), with the goal of transitioning research results from federal agencies that conduct IT R&D to missions and systems across the federal government. FISAC carries out these activities through several working groups—the IT for Crises Management, Federal Statistics (FedStats), Next-Generation Internet Applications, and Universal Access teams—and through engagement with the NSF’s Digital Government program. 24 National Science Foundation (NSF), Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. 1999. “Digital Government, Program Announcement NSF 99-103.” NSF, Arlington, Va. Available online at <http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/1999/nsf99103/nsf99103.pdf>. 25 Updated from information provided in briefing slides presented to the committee by Larry Brandt, Digital Government Program director, August 3, 2000, and the Digital Government program announcement, cited in footnote 24 above.
Representative terms from entire chapter: