those studies have all suggested interactions with researchers as a means of tapping additional technical expertise, especially top-caliber research talent that is unlikely to be obtainable in-house or through the usual contract mechanisms. Thus, e-government provides an unusual opportunity for mutual benefit.


This letter provides an overview of key issues and illustrations of how computer science research can contribute to e-government initiatives. Technical problems arising from government operations have the potential to inspire important computer science research, and a well-managed research program focused on these problems can have an impact not only in helping to achieve e-government capabilities, but also much more broadly. The broadening of the computer science research agenda to encompass user needs and social computing issues argues for researcher involvement with the sorts of real-world problems found in government. In bringing together computer scientists and government agencies to tackle problems of mutual interest, the NSF Digital Government program has begun to demonstrate that potential.

Looking forward, a key question is how to leverage the research-management expertise of organizations such as the NSF, as well as mission agency research organizations (such as DARPA and NASA Ames)— and the results of the research they support—to meet e-government requirements. Making IT Better noted particularly that the leadership role provided by the NSF is essential for preserving the emphasis on long-term research and impact that is needed to engage top computer scientists and meet future needs. Government agencies, like businesses, have real operating needs that often demand short-term fixes, and these are not generally an appropriate target for government-funded research. Such problems, addressed in typical systems integration projects in which the problems and risks are better understood and managed, differ critically from broader, deeper challenges that can be addressed most effectively through collaboration with computer science researchers. Needs of an unprecedented character are most effectively addressed through programs that are carefully managed to engage computer science researchers in advancing the state of the art and participating in the development of solutions that are both realistic and appropriately aggressive with respect to the likely trajectory of emerging technologies.

Moving rapidly to address these unprecedented needs requires a strategy that incorporates not only the development of requirements and the invention of new technologies but also technology transition, organizational culture, and acquisition processes. Carefully designed research efforts can often anticipate these process issues and develop new concepts that are more likely to succeed as they are brought into government systems through acquisition, development and integration, deploy-

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