Panel paints the future of e-gov

Panel paints the future of e-gov

By Matt McLaughlin

GCN Staff


JULY 20—Government officials and the public still consider electronic government a technology issue rather than a mainstream issue and therefore might not fully support it, a speaker yesterday told the Council for Excellence in Government.

The nation is still discovering how important e-government can be, and the process won't get its due until its value is understood, said Jerry Mechling, a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Mechling and other panelists spoke at the council's Imagine E-Government Awards luncheon.

Mechling joked that commitment to e-government is like a ham-and-egg sandwich. 'The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed,' he said. 'We need to be committed.'

Mark Forman, associate director of the Office of Management and Budget for information technology and e-government, said agencies must learn to take full advantage of the Web's potential.

'We now have two-way, real-time communication between communities,' Forman said in a keynote address. 'E-government has got to be bigger than using the Web to get information or pay your taxes.'

The Web offers citizens a means of ensuring government fairness and accountability, said panelist Scott Harshbarger, president of Common Cause.

'This is our last hope for people to reclaim their democracy,' Harshbarger said, 'for people to make sure their voice is heard in the halls of Congress.'

Education is the area of greatest Web potential, said two state officials, Kentucky chief information officer Aldona Valicenti and Arun Baheti, director of e-government for California.

Valicenti noted that Kentucky has wired every classroom in the state to the Internet. Baheti described distance-learning initiatives that California offers through its university system.

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