1. Realizing the potential of e-government that has been demonstrated in early efforts will require addressing implementation issues, resolving shorter-term technology issues, and conducting research on longer-term challenges.

  2. While government can in many cases build on technology developed for the commercial sector, targeted computer science research is needed where government leads demand or has special requirements.

  3. Providing a sound foundation for e-government and other applications of information technology throughout society will depend on ensuring a continuing, broad federal computer science research program.

  4. Challenging computer scientists to address real-world problems in the government sphere can stimulate interactions benefiting researchers, who need access to computer and information artifacts and realistic contexts, and government agencies, which gain expertise and insights that can inform and improve their IT acquisition and management and research results that can be applied in government and elsewhere.

These findings are developed below.

  1. Realizing the potential of e-government that has been demonstrated in early efforts will require addressing implementation issues, resolving shorter-term technology issues, and conducting research on longer-term challenges.

The emergence of the Internet and other technologies for electronic commerce has given rise to the concept of “digital government” or “e-government”—the application of information technology (IT) and associated changes in practices to foster a more informed, engaged citizenry and more efficient, accountable government operations. Among the key features envisioned for e-government are increasing access to government information, facilitating transactions with government agencies, making access to information and transactions ubiquitous, better meeting the needs of specific groups of users, increasing people’s participation in government, and meeting expectations for advances in government-unique areas. 3 Constituencies include citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations, and the diverse agencies of federal, state, and local government.

Ideas from early e-government experiments have contributed both to technology development and to the improvement of government’s business practices. Among the most visible enhancements have been aggregated cross-agency portals. These Web sites provide users with access to information and services organized by broad topic and user constituency rather than by specific government departments or agencies, and often are task-oriented. 4 Computer-based tax-filing and inquiry-response services provided by multiple agencies are other publicly visible illustrations of positive changes in the way government does its business. Also apparent—in news accounts from across the country—are difficulties experienced by government agencies seeking new capabilities. 5

3  

A 1996 report based on a series of CSTB projects examining needs at the Internal Revenue Service suggested similar goals, stating that “based on its work of the past 5 years, the committee strongly believes that the modernization of the IRS, including both business re-engineering and advanced automation, is extremely important. Modernization is necessary to improve taxpayer service and to allow the IRS to operate within an increasingly automated society, both of which ultimately ensure that taxes can be collected efficiently.” (Computer Science and Telecommunications Board< National Research Council. 1996. Continued Review of Tax Systems Modernization at the Internal Revenue Service. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 3.)

4  

One of the earliest portals, fedstats.gov, is discussed in Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, 2000, Summary of a Workshop on Information Technology Research for Federal Statistics, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

5  

For example, CSTB’s 1996 review of IRS modernization efforts cautioned that “the IRS has had serious technical capability problems that, in the committee’s view, cast doubt on the overall success of TSM if they are not solved.” (Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council. 1996. Continued Review of Tax Systems Modernization at the Internal Revenue Service. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 4.)



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