Deloitte: Measuring benefits can help sell e-gov projects

E-government investments are not evaluated often enough for the financial benefits they provide to citizens and businesses, according to a study published Tuesday by the research unit of New York-based Deloitte Consulting.

Most e-government investments are evaluated according to the cost savings they generate for government, not for their benefits to citizens and businesses.

In fact, an Office of Management and Budget official found that a tiny fraction of the hundreds of e-government business cases the agency reviewed this year attempted to include the potential benefits to businesses and citizens, according to Deloitte's research.

Measuring the return on investment for citizens and businesses can secure support for e-gov projects, and also encourage businesses to locate in e-gov-enabled areas, Deloitte executives said.

"By recognizing this ? today's government leaders have a powerful weapon to use in their fight to get strategic technology projects funded," said Greg Pellegrino, Deloitte Consulting's global industry leader for the public sector.

William Eggers, a Deloitte Research director and the author of the study, said e-government could save people and businesses billions of dollars by lessening the effort it takes to obtain a building permit or register a business.

"Because the regulatory environment is often a critical factor in a company's decision on where to locate, e-government therefore can be a powerful tool for enhancing economic competitiveness," Eggers said.

Deloitte executives developed a methodology, called "Citizen Advantage," to calculate the e-gov benefits to citizens and businesses. Citizen Advantage assesses the time and expense of finding, understanding and complying with the rules and regulations that apply to these two groups.

According to the study, IT initiatives can ease compliance activities in five ways:

  • Providing information in one easy-to-access location

  • Simplifying and streamlining reporting requirements

  • Reducing the number of forms

  • Making transactions such as obtaining permits easier

  • Helping businesses understand what regulations apply to them

  • According to Deloitte's research, some e-gov initiatives that create Citizen Advantage are Oregon's one-stop process for building permits, which saved the construction industry $100 million a year, and the Small Business Administration's Business Compliance One Stop Web site, which saves businesses about $526 million a year by helping them with regulatory compliance.

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