Commentary: E-gov't means collaboration

Effective government-to-citizen services need more than just putting old processes online. They require collaboration between government agencies and other organizations.

3 min read
By Bill Keller and Gregg Kreizman, Gartner Analysts

Effective government-to-citizen services, including those related to motor vehicles, require more than just putting old processes online. They require collaboration between government agencies and other organizations.

See news story:
Motor vehicle offices shift to online
The Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent investigation showed how easily terrorists can get fake driver's licenses. Beyond the operation of motor vehicles, driver's licenses also play a crucial role in providing identification for people writing checks and crossing U.S. borders. To help ensure that terrorists or criminals don't get a driver's license--say, to drive a truck--motor vehicle offices must interact with each other, with the databases of agencies overseeing homeland security, and with the private and nonprofit sectors.

But collaboration will improve government-to-citizen services generally, not just for homeland security. Knowledge sharing will allow development of one-stop or single-access delivery that allows citizens to be served seamlessly by ignoring departmental or jurisdictional boundaries. For example:

• E-business centers will enable businesses to interact with a single government organization to meet a diverse set of requirements, from multiple permits to filings and health inspections.

• Single-access services will enable human-services caseworkers to provide eligibility information for citizens through a single point of entry.

• "My government centers" will bring a new level of personalization to e-government offerings. Multiple agencies and levels of government will collaborate to understand citizens' interests or requirements, and will disseminate appropriate information to them.

However, increasing collaboration requires substantial changes, including:

• Strong leadership: Government chief executives (such as the president of the United States, governors, county executives and mayors), legislative bodies, departmental leaders and chief information officers must be committed to the goal of increasing collaboration and cooperation. Leading such efforts will also require new governance structures.

• Budget reform: To support cross-agency and cross-governmental initiatives, government entities--from the federal level down to local jurisdictions--will have to implement new budgeting processes. These processes will need to allow the pooling of funds to support interjurisdictional and interdepartmental projects.

• Know-how: Buying all the technology in the world will not help a government organization if it does not have the right people or sourcing strategy. Collaborative government will require new training programs for employees and vendors' staff, and the creation of a shared vision of seamless e-government.

• Privacy and security: Sharing information across organizational boundaries will heighten the public's concern about privacy and the security of data. New policies, laws and staff training will be required to ensure that collaboration does not threaten the privacy of citizens.

(For a related commentary on driver's licenses and security, see gartner.com.)

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