Forrester: Canada's Online Services Fall Short

Canada's federal and provincial officials see the Internet as an important channel for service delivery, but their online services won't fulfill the nation's plan for seamless government, according to a report released April 17 by Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

The report, "Canada's eGovernment Blueprint," found that 89 percent of federal officials and 75 percent of provincial officials see Internet initiatives as very important or critical in the next two years. But government officials aren't going about e-government in the right way, the researchers said.

The problem is that the online services separately address the priorities of each agency instead of laying the foundation for government change. As a result, the services have limited interoperability, clumsy interfaces and dissimilar priorities, the report said.

To fix the problem, the report said, Canada must do the following:

*Establish an XML-based integration architecture that spans every level of government and uses common definitions so agencies can share data;

*Create an e-gov trustmark and grant it to sites that meet stringent criteria for privacy and transaction handling;

*Attract users by offering services across a variety of public and private channels.

"Transforming today's online initiatives into an e-government network won't happen overnight. It will take significant effort that spans the next decade," said James Sharp, an analyst in Forrester's Toronto Research Center. "To establish a momentum toward this seamless public sector, the federal government should step up and take a leading role, driving an opt-in privacy model and defining a common architectural framework."

Forrester researchers interviewed government officials from 28 federal agencies and 12 of 13 provinces and territories for the report.

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