Everybody Give Me an E

Everybody Give Me an E

As the power of the Internet imposes an ever-stronger grip on virtually every aspect of how Americans work and play, so does its hold on governments trying to keep pace in a furiously changing society.

Whether it be communication from agency to agency or agencies to citizens, it is clear that the burgeoning environment of G2C and B2G, or government to citizens and business to government, has made the traditional way of conducting government business an endangered species. A good many critics say those changes can only be for the better.

This year's special report on "E-Commerce in Government" looks at how the technology changes occurring via the Internet are forcing all levels of government, from the U.S. federal bureaucracy down to the smallest town, to spend money on e-gov to catch up with the private-sector movement.

Moving vital services online, such as obtaining drivers' licenses and paying taxes, will both save money for agencies and ease the schedules of harried citizens. And as the report makes clear, John and Jane Q. Public don't care how e-government improves their lives ? only that it does.

Companies that pair with government agencies to implement those changes realize the opportunities are huge. "There's a lot of money to be made out there," said analyst Christopher Baum from the GartnerGroup. Who makes
the most money will have shown a
nimbleness and flexibility that is demanded in the Web world; no dinosaurs can survive here.

But as government plows ahead with its ambitions, it is also clear that responding to the needs of citizens more quickly and with a new host of services also brings precautions in vital areas, such as consumer privacy.

"[Privacy is] part of the reason that, certainly in the public sector, things move more slowly," said Tom Siekman, an executive at GovConnect.com. The public trust in government ? never all that strong to begin with in the United States ? will sag even more if citizens believe their transactions with e-government are not a private affair.

However the processes of moving to
e-gov play out, nobody is pretending anymore that the train hasn't left the station. As one state agency chief information officer said, "E-government is an inevitability."

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