B  U  L  L  E  T  I  N

of the American Society for Information Science and Technology       Vol. 31, No. 3    February/March 2005

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E-Government II

Best Practices for Digital Government

by Allison Brueckner, Guest Editor

Allison Brueckner is a free-lancer and independent consultant in the greater Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor areas of Southeast Michigan and can be reached by e-mail: allison.brueckner@comcast.net

Welcome to the second of two special sections of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology on e-government. The authors in this special section share best practices from local, national and international perspectives.

One of the most important features of the Internet is its ability to connect people with information and with one another. For many this means finding affordable housing, local jobs and dependable day care. Increasingly, government units are trying to use the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, to provide their citizens with valuable information to enhance the community’s quality of life and to increase civic participation.

E-government is the combined service power of traditional government practices utilizing information and communication technology (ICT) to disseminate, retrieve and store information or services. It provides an opportunity to offer the community higher quality services more efficiently and at lower cost.

Weary public servants can be excused for asking, “What's the point?” Legislative mandates, budgetary constraints and geopolitical threats make the hard work of doing the public's business all the more difficult. Real results in such an environment are harder to come by and require new approaches. In this special section, you will hear about the latest ideas, approaches and best practices in the use of technology in the public sector.

Carrie Hammerman, policy analyst with cyber-state.org, profiles the state of Michigan and its e-government trends. She identifies four trends that appear prevalent within Michigan’s e-government practices: 1) intergovernmental cooperation, 2) external providers, 3) interactive and transactional websites and 4) addressing privacy concerns. As more and more of Michigan’s local governments use the Internet to connect with their citizens and provide services to their constituents, the stronger the current trends will become and newer trends will appear. Cyber-state has been assessing Michigan’s local government websites since 1999, when only 5% of its local government agencies (townships, villages and counties) were online, whereas today 30% of Michigan’s local governments have a Web presence. This is surely a notable continuous and consistent growth of their online presence.

Coming from a completely different perspective, one from “within,” Peter Boersma, senior information architect at EzGov, shares an organizational process with us. His experience in working with a variety of people with different talents from different departments and bringing all that together into a marketable and strategic product deliverable is a tale not so often understood by government agencies. Many government agencies do not have the time or knowledge base to understand. Even if they wanted to, funding is always a factor for those particularly smaller government agencies. It is an enlightening and detailed scenario that Mr. Boersma shares, one that certainly promotes intergovernmental cooperation.

Todd La Porte, associate professor of public policy at George Mason University, provides us with activities and results of the work conducted by the Cyberspace Policy Research Group (CyPRG), funded by the National Science Foundation. CyPRG has been evaluating national level governments since 1995 using a measurement system called the Website Attribute Evaluation System. The two primary elements of this system are “transparency” and “interactivity,” or, in other words, it identifies the openness and accessibility of the content and information being provided and disseminated by these government agencies. Along with the analysis of their data the paper also relates those results with other government performance measures.

So I welcome you to explore these three very different perspectives on best practices in e-government. Enjoy!

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