Feds, industry meet to refine e-gov strategies

Feds, industry meet to refine e-gov strategies

Virginia is the right place to start e-gov discussions, Rep. Tom Davis says.

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

Reps. Steve Horn and Tom Davis took to the hills of Northern Virginia last month to debate strategies the federal government should adopt as it moves toward 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.

Net nexus

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

'E-government offers the potential to reinvent the way citizens and businesses alike interact with government,' said Horn (R-Calif.), the subcommittee's chairman. 'The benefits of this new form of government are plentiful and the challenges profound.'

E-government is a relatively new frontier, said David McClure, General Accounting Office associate director of governmentwide and defense information systems. '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.'

McClure said the government is moving to the Internet for basic transactions, online procurement, interactive communication and information dissemination. He identified five challenges:

• Effective executive leadership and management. Top management must be responsive and focus on decision-making.

• Development of a citizen-as-customer focus. Standard policies and practices would ensure effective electronic services.

• Security and privacy. E-government will succeed only if citizens are assured that sensitive transactions are secure; a public-key infrastructure is integral to success.

• Sound technology base. The government must use reliable hardware and software, provide adequate bandwidth, create interoperable applications, develop technical road maps and expand its use of alternative media such as wireless devices.

• Technical expertise. Agencies must figure out how to keep their information technology jobs filled and how to overcome the skills gap, especially in the area of enterprise systems and Web development.

George Molaski, the Transportation Department's chief information officer, said changing the way federal CIOs operate and attracting an information technology-literate generation of new employees would help the government overcome such challenges.

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

Donald W. Upson, Virginia's technology secretary, said that all levels of government'federal, state and local'must not separate the missions from the technology.

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

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