Conference: E-Government Trails E-Commerce

REDWOOD SHORES, CALIF. (03/07/2000) - The public is waiting for government to offer the services that already are the norm in the Internet economy, an expert on electronic government said today.

"People of all ages and backgrounds have high expectations for new technology," David Agnew, executive director of the digital economy program at the Alliance for Converging Technologies, said here today at a conference on e-government at Oracle Corp. headquarters.

Three trends have developed in the Internet era that will have to be addressed by governments as they move to online services, Agnew said.

-- Citizens now expect to enjoy the values expressed in the Internet slogan "faster, better, cheaper" and they want to apply it to government services;-- New technologies are giving citizens access to private commercial and public services not dreamed of a few years ago; and-- A new cohort of digital citizens is arising who embrace technology as a tool in their daily lives.

"These three trends have created challenges and high expectations for governments," Agnew said.

Governments will follow the norms of e-commerce in several ways as they evolve their Internet services, Agnew said. Online businesses witnessed the development of sophisticated customers who demanded robust Web sites, he added.

"Customers are no longer passive." Agnew said. "They are savvy and impatient with bureaucracy."

As government leaders develop their Internet strategy, they will see ways of cooperating with other states and regions to provide better services. "We will see the emergence of governments that come together in new ways to deliver services," Agnew said.

Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, another participant at today's conference, said the development of Internet services in Utah, including the relatively simple task of allowing online registration for fishing licenses has met with exuberant approval. "We put licenses online and we struck pay dirt," Leavitt said. "People told us they loved it."

Utah is considering more sophisticated Internet services, such as putting information codes on driver's licenses that can be scanned into a computer to instantly access driver's licenses records, he said.

"We know that if we don't fight change, we will fall behind," Leavitt said.

As governments turn their attention to their online services, new models of service and citizen participation will arise, including greater government accountability and openness, said Agnew at the Alliance for Converging Technologies.

"We are going through a sea change we haven't seen in hundreds of years," Agnew said.

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