Lawmakers take e-government hearing on the road

Lawmakers take e-government hearing on the road

By Shruti Date

GCN Staff

MAY 23—Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) took to the hills of Northern Virginia on Monday to debate the challenges the federal government faces and the strategies it should adopt as it moves into electronic government.

Federal, state and private-sector officials exchanged ideas at a field hearing of the House Government Reform Subcommittee of Government, Management, Information and Technology at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Va.

'I can think of no more appropriate place to begin this discussion than the Internet capital of the world. Northern Virginia is home to more dot-com companies than any other place in the world,' Davis said.

'Electronic government offers the potential to reinvent the way citizens and businesses alike interact with government,' said Horn, chairman of the subcommittee. 'The benefits of this new form of government are plentiful and the challenges profound.'

'For the most part, federal, state and local governments are in the early stages of shifting their perspective to citizen-centered services and are just beginning to move towards the real potential of e-government,' said David McClure, General Accounting Office associate director of governmentwide and defense information systems.

McClure said the government is moving to the Internet for basic transactional services, online procurement, and interactive communication and information dissemination. He pointed out the challenges in this transition:

  • Effective executive leadership and management. The change requires top management leadership, responsive management process and focused decision-making.
  • Development of a citizen-as-customer focus. Interactive customers demand more as they grow accustomed to the efficiency of many online companies. A standard for policies and practices is needed to ensure effective design, development, implementation and delivery of customer e-services.
  • Security and privacy. Electronic government will only succeed when all who participate feel comfortable using electronic means to carry out private, sensitive transactions, and a public-key infrastructure is integral to that success.
  • The technology. The federal government must provide adequate bandwidth, reliable platform and software applications, interoperability, technical roadmaps and alternative media such as wireless devices.
  • Technical expertise. The demand for IT workers is large and getting larger. Employers will attempt to fill 1.6 million new IT jobs this year, with the largest skill gaps in enterprise systems and Web development positions.

George Molaski, Transportation Department chief information officer, said changing the ways federal CIOs operate and attracting an IT-literate generation would help the government meet these challenges.

The federal CIO Council also needs the power to implement its recommendations across departments, he said.

Donald W. Upson, Virginia's technology secretary, emphasized government—federal, state and local—should not separate policy from IT.

'We should not separate wiring schools from education,' Upson said.

Government officials were also joined by Patricia McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of the Council for Excellence in Government; Lee Cooper, Unisys vice president of business development; and Kathleen de Laski, America Online group director for editorial products.


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