A couple articles (both via beSpacific) on the move to e-filing of documents by the U.S. government. The first article deals with e-filing of documents within in the judicial system. No specifics, but does track progression of these initiatives from its current nascent state (merely scanning paper documents by the courts), to the full realization of document submittal in XML.
I tried to play around with several of the courts they mention, but they all required an official login.
The second link has to do with the e-filing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They've begun filing electronic versions of documents on June 30 using a system they call Image File Wrapper (IFW), which seems to boil down to merely scanning existing applications. The eventual goal is to create an "end-to-end" patent application process by October, 2004. The initial iniative will require 100 terabytes of data storage.
I'm taking a class in information seeking behavior over the summer. for my final paper, I think the population I want to research is public sector employees, and their search for information related to career development, etc. Think along the lines of the Gov Online Learning Center. I was just wondering if anyone out there might, off the top of their head have good resources for similar websites or interesting (scholarly) articles on the topic. If you do, please drop me an email at email@example.com. Thanks. I'll report back any info I find on my own, and plug anyone who is nice enough to send me anything.
If you haven't heard, the US Federal Trade Commission has recently set up a national Do Not Call registry. Registering with the DNC list will stop as much as 80% of telemarketing calls to your home. Telemarketers get the list from the FTC, and if they are found to be calling numbers on the list, they are subject to fines. Great idea, and something that has existed in various forms (especially at the state level) for several years.
This registry, which took me less than a minute to file (and only another couple seconds to respond to the email they send me), is part of the low level functionality that is essential to the success of eGovernment as a whole. This is the kind of thing that can spark public interest in the use of the internet to simplify their interactions with government. Sort of like a gateway drug for eGov. I don't know the exact numbers, but I've heard the site was swamped during its first several days, so it looks like the marketing was successful. Hopefully that translates into continued and varied usage by those hitting the DNC site during the first several days.
Last week the US Supreme Court ruled the legislation requiring libraries to use filtering software in order to receive federal funds was constitutional. The arguements were the compelling interest in shielding children from "harmful" material to the protection of free speech (or rather the ability to freely receive speech).
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this whole issue - I agree that the government (via library funding) should not be required to provide access to material the community deems unacceptable, but I know how faulty both the technology and the application of it have been. Obviously, less control over the conduits of access, the better, and the SC ruling is a blow against that. There is a bright spot to the ruling, in that librarians now have more leeway in unfiltering sites for adult usage.
After a series of articles over the past couple weeks warning that eGov initiatives aren't quite the cost savers they've been sold to be, here is some news about ways eGov has saved time/money in the US. They cite consolidation of agency business activities as the prime reason for the savings, which includes $1.2 billion in payroll savings over the next ten years.
Here is a slash dotish thread documenting anecdotal experiences with UK eGov initatives. It is one thing to see surveys and reports, but to read personal experiences provides another interesting glimpse into why take-up of services hasn't been higher.
Following up on a theme from an earlier story, this article cautions agencies from selling eGov iniatiatives as cost savers. One reason is that it is often tough to determine where savings are being generated, technological advances or policy changes. Another reason is that since these iniatitives have not achieved full adoption, most agencies are still providing paper as well as digital version of most services. And, most importantly, the value of eGov doesn't can't necessarily be judged by something as quantifiable as dollars and cents - the true value of eGov is in it's ability to better serve consituents, the success of which is much more difficult to gauge effectively, and much more difficult to put a monetary value on.
The Electoral Reform Society, an independent organization concerned with, well, electoral reform, published their report of the UK's recent voting trials and the news is not so good. Their report on the various alternative voting pilots found that none significantly increased voter turnout. The pilots tested in the recent elections included postal, SMS, internet, and digital TV.
All in all, there were 56 pilots tested on 6.5 potential voters. The report found that, on average, turnouts increased about 15%, but total turnout in districts running the pilots still didn't reach desirable levels. Most of the increase came through the postal pilots, and the numbers are much worse for the technology pilots. Only 3 of 10 districts running tech pilots saw increases, and the those distrcits only saw single digit increases. On average, in those districts with eVoting pilots, less than 10% of those voting choose to use the technology option.
I'll wait to see some kind of official report from the Office of the e-Envoy, but I must say this doesn't bode well for the UK's ambitious eVoting goals.
A couple days ago I wrote about how eGov initatives have yet to save the time and money they've promised. Well, I just ran across this article that says the problem aren't the initiatives themselves, but rather that not enough people know about them to make them viable alternatives to traditional interaction methods. This is another one of those polls/reports that for sets out to prove an obvious idea - that the more people who know about something, the more people will use it. I usually think these polls are silly, until it was pointed out to me that until someone takes the time to do this kind of report, the only thing you have to make your case to managers is your opinion. With budgets getting slashed so harshly, a report like this can assure your project can get the marketing budget it'll need to make the project worthwhile.
Here is a direct link to the official GSA report.
An hour long discussion of Natural language processing and FirstGov from the National Public Radio station at American University. Guests on the show include the CTO from the General Services Administration and the Vice President of the Council for Excellence in Government.
Haven't gotten to listen to the whole thing yet (on dial-up from home, yes it is very 1998), but what I have heard of it is very interesting and definitely worth a listen. (via the resource shelf)
In the UK eGovernment costs outstrip savings. Most of the deficeit is made up of the start-up costs of these initiatives, but savings wont catch up to costs until at least 2012, it is estimated. One of the big selling points for eGovernment is the potential cost benefits of reduced staffing, beuracracy, etc and if these benefits aren't visible for another decade, and I'm worried that legislators might cool on their support because eGovernment, and the Internet in particular, isn't just a fad, but a tool that will be a crucial element in the operation of every organization in the future. I'm sure it was quite expensive to have telephones and electricity installed in government facilities a hundred years ago, but it was unqestionably worth it and necessary. I hope people realize that when it come eGov.
An interesting article on the state of eGovernment in South Korea. Their $251 million project, which began last November, has since lost 2/3 of its traffic since debuting. The program relies heavily on public kiosks and severeal of those kiosks have already been shut down because of disuse.
I don't read Korean well enough (at all, really), to judge the Korean eGov site, but I hope that usability is the problem, rather than that this speaks about the potential of the use of kiosks to bridge the digital divide.
Whatever the cause of the failures, the current problems don't bode well for what was supposed to have beeen the world's first eGovernment.
In the 2004 elections, the US federal government will be testing its Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE).
I've got some initial problems with SERVE, 1) it is only available on computers running on the Windows operating system, 2) the testing will be very limited to about 6 million potential voters (only citizens living abroad and members of the armed services), and 3) it requires a third step in the voting provess by requiring participants to register with SERVE to get a digital signature (the other two being registering to vote and actually voting).
Still, it will be the first use of the Internet for binding results in a US national election and should be a good test of the system.
Though declaring email “the end of history” is more than a bit of hyperbole, this article about the difficulty of keeping a national archive in the digital age is very scary. Personally, this problem keeps me awake at night. Because of email, and the Internet in general, people are writing and reading more, yet very little of that information is being archived in any meaningful way.
Digital access to the UK's government art collection. Link via Experimental Space, who asks why the US doesn't have a similar digital archive. Good question. They may very well have one, somewhere, but the American Memory a digital archive from the Library of Congress, contains an extensive collection of pictures, sounds, text, and movies.
If you are going to be in DC next week, you should visit E-Gov 2003. The conference itself is very expensive, but the expo, exhibitions, and a couple sesssions are free (for government employees, cheap otherwise).
The District of Columbia has gotten a very nice revamp. According to this article from GCN, they didn't add much new content or functionality, merely reorganizing of the information already on the site. One of the major flaws in most websites is that sturcture of the site mirrors the organizational heirarchy, rather than the matching the needs and expectations of the users. This is especially true of some government websites, which, predictably scew much more toward the beurocratic than the usable. The navigation of DC's new site is task-centered, and much easier to get around. It also promintently features access to Ask's natural language search engine.
At the end of 2002 the UK had made 63% of public services available online. While lower than the 73% projected 3 years ago, this seems like an overwhelming success to me. I'd like to see figures for the US, Canada, Singapore and other nations deemed to be at the high end of the eGov spectrum, but even 63% strikes me as a higher than expected figure. Despite being lower than projected, the UK's Office of the e-Envoy still expects to have 100% of services online by the end of 2005.
Here is access to the official report.
I wish this story about egov initiatives in India was a little more detailed (anyone have a better source for info?), but it does support my continual contention that it is possible for "third world" governments/economies to leap frog over the industrial age into the information age and become strong precences. A government like India's has much more to gain by embracing eGov than most western nations, if only because they've got a wider gap between potential and the current reality. This IT park they mention in the article is an excellent way to begin providing services to those who'd otherwise never be able to interact with government, even if the government were e-nabled, because they personally wouldn't have access to the technology to egage in that interaction. It sounds very exciting, but I'd really love to read more about this.
This article looks at the usability efforts of the big e-government portals. The tips they suggests (example: "Define your audience(s)") are very common and simple, but GPO Access and FirstGov really put those principles into action more than any other large organization, even ones that claim to be concernd with usability (Both those sites are certainly more useable than Jakob Nielsen's UseIt).
Despite the former Soviet Union's adoption of a policy of openess (glasnost), the reality of that policy hasn't taken nearly the form most people would expected, or hoped for. This is especially true on the Internet, which is supposed to have a democratizing effect in regards to freedom of information.
Estimates place Internet access in Russia at only about 5% (compared to 70% here in the States). Well, Russia has now moved to the second phase in their eGov strategy and one of their big initiatives is to provide increased access. Electronic government in Russia has a long way to go, but there is also a much greater potential. The state of technology in that country hit a peek in the early 60s, and never increased much beyond that. The promise of eGovernment will the ability to quickly jump from the low technology levels to something more equivalent with the rest of the west (or even the far east).
Here is an interesting quote from the article about the current state of technology usage by government agencies to prove my point: "The city of Moscow loses $25 million per year in pensions that are paid out to the deceased because it takes up to six months for death certificates to arrive at the necessary organizations." Cross-agency electronic access to these documents would be an enormous boon to the Russian government.
I've seen a lot or talk about the use of open source software in the public sector. It sort of seems like a gimme to me - open source software is free or inexpensive, usually results in increased security, provides more extensibility, and avoids the market dominance issue by allowing government to do business without complete reliance on Microsoft.
Here is a good resource from Gartner research, which provides an overview of open source iniatiatives in the US and internationally, and provides many links to internal and external sources for more information.
There is a soon to be released survey on legal issues of information on the web and here is an interesting little pre-article about it. The question of how do you make information easily available (in accordane with the Freedom of Information Act), but still protect privacy issues (in accordance with the Data Protection Act). It seems impossible to abide by one set of legislation without runnign afoul of the other. To make matters even more difficult, the real problem, one information expert suggests, "is a lack of trust and confidence in the Government keeping and handling the information properly.”
You can preorder the report here. If it is available free somewhere at a later date, I'll take a look and provide a link then.
I wrote two of my end of term papers on various eGov topics (one on the Federal Depository Library Program and GPO Access and the other on eVoting). If anyone might be interested in reading either of those, once I get them back and make sure I've gotten the As I deserve, leave a message in comments.
If you are a government CIO and you don't happen to check your inbox very often, here is the memo from eGov Czar Mark Foreman specifying procedures to collect part of the $5 million federal budget allocated to eGov this fiscal year.
Inside Politics is dubbed a "Your Guide to National and State Politices," and is just that. There is a wealth of information here, mostly financial data about US legislators and research/polls performed by Brown University, which only makes sense considering the site is compiled by Darrell West, a profesor at Brown's Center for Public Policy. What should be of particular interest to anyone who'd be stopping by here are the Urban, State and Federal, and Global eGovernment reports. I wont offer any critique, since I haven't poured through them all yet, but I feel safe sharing the links since this is the third year West has performed this survey, and each of the reports seems to offer a very detailed analysis. The Global eGovernment report, for example, looked at 1,197 iniatitives in nearly 200 hundred countries.
ABC News is collecting daily "notes" from the presidential candidates and collecting them on one website. The notes can be on any topic, but must be 200 words or less. Most of the notes have been written (or at least attributed) to the candidates themselves.
The Washington Post is calling it a weblog, but I don't see it. I'm not sure what could more can be communicated by the candidates in 200 of their own words that isn't included in the reams of ink already dedicated to the campaign everyday by paid reporters and bloggers. Vermont Governor Howard Dean has an official weblog for his campaign. It is updated severeal times a day, with links to press, updates on movement along the campaign trail, and general commentary, but isn't updated by Dean himself, rather a collection of PR flacks (I'm guessing). Still, it is a good to see candidates embracing technology, and this should be an increasingly interesting read as the campaign continues, especially in light of the verbal volleys already taking place between Dean and Kerry.
Interesting article about England's eVoting pilots, and the hope for increased voter turnout. The last local elections in the UK attracted only 1/3 of registered voters. And while the various (smaller scale) pilots that ran last year all saw increased turnout, most people are unconvinced that these new iniatitives will make much of a difference. "Some people would say that these new measures will increase turnout fairly substantially the first time round," sayd Dennis Reed, director of thinktank Local Government Information Unit thinktank, "then people will get just as used to it as the ordinary type of voting and get concerned about whether their vote really matters."
I'm not going to get into a whole debate about apathy and democracy, but the actual technology and execution seems very well thought out. Registered voters were sent two smart cards in the mail, one with an identification number and the other with a passcode. Both must be used, and each were mailed seperately, which is a simple, but relatively effective security measure. The cards can be inserted into kiosks, or the numbers on each card entered online, or via wireless text messaging. The voting begins officially tomorrow, and will continue for several days.
Today begins a 3 day Federal Trade Commission Spam Forum "to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail and to explore the technical, legal, and financial issues associated with it. "
The Forum is open to the public, so if you are in the DC area, maybe you would like to stop by and let me know whats going on? Otherwise, they've already put up some of the materials being presented by the panelists. You can also visit the official FTC Spam site.
Considering how techno-illiterate most legislators are, spam has gotten to be a huge issue - I'm aware of at least two anti-spam bills bouncing around congress and that shouldn't be a surprise. Considering that 40% of all email sent is spam and 2/3 of all spam contains false info, I can't imagine anyone besides a few Nigerian Con-Men could be pro-spam. Being an anti-spam legislator is a poltical slam dunk and a way to gain some quick and easy public relations cache.
But, as much as I detest spam, and wish I received less of it (between 3 different emails, I probably receive more than 100 pieces of spam a day), I'm not sure how I feel about anti-spam laws. I have this nagging feeling about them, and I don't quite know enough about the law to explain why.
It is staggering to hear, but US portal FirstGov does not currently use a Content Management System (CMS). Each page on the site is hand-coded, but not for much longer. the General Services Administration recently signed a half million dollar contract for use of Vignette's CMS software.
To illustrate why a CMS is so important, here is a quote from M.J. Jameson, s GSA associate administrator:
"When the Columbia shuttle tragedy happened, we took 24 hours to get up what we needed to get up," Jameson said. "If we had had this content management system, the people who do that for FirstGov could have done it from home within 20 minutes."
Not only do CMSs save time and money, they allow the technically illititerate to update without calling in tech support, the dynamic generation of content, and easier changes to design/site architecture. I'm really shocked they would still be hand-coding.
The license is governmentwide, which is also pretty amazing. Any government agency that is still hand-coding is wasting money, and should be strongly encouraged to make the move to Vignette as soon as possible (not that I have any pull in that regard).
Assessment of Electronic Government Information Products
This report was put together in early 1999, so is a little dated, but it is still an interesting look at the initital efforts towards providing digital access to documents in the Federal Depository Library Program. At the time, the study found that: there was no unified standards across government agencies, little thought had been given to permanent access to the digital materials, there are authenticity issues (census data provided by GPO Access rather than the Census Dept. website), no central web authority - even within individual agencies.
It seems like most of those concerns have since been solved (or at least addressed to some degree), but I wasn't able to find a follow-up report.
Nothing to do with anything, really, but I'm amazed at how the banner above has ads relevant to the site's topic. I wonder if it is a human who goes through all the new Blogger blogs and defines keywords, or whether they are able to grab them off the site description, and if so, I wonder what kind of thesaurus they are using in order to serve appropriate ads.
I'm also shocked that the site is already getting Google requests. I also checked and the site is currently the #3 result for "egov blog."
The National Defense University graduated the first student from its eGovernment Leadership Certificate Program on April 11. I'd been wondering if such a program existed, and here it is. 75 of the 100 or so people in the program are currently employed by the Department of Defense, but the program encourges citizen applicants.
For those of you who like to watch, the Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) provides access to nearly 80 traffic webcams throughout all 5 boroughs. There are 62 cameras providing still images, which are updated every 15-30 seconds, and another 17 cameras that provide full streaming images.
The cameras are meant to help DOT staff assess trafic conditions around the city, but New York City decided that since the technology and capabilities were already in place they could let everyone have access (they also include the streams on the city's public access television station). Compared to Ohio (see below) this is a very forward thinking approach on the use of the web.
The Ohio House of Representative may pass bill that would limit government agencies ability to provide free information on their websites. The bill, HB 145, had been voted down last year, but was attached to this year's budget bill without any debate.
The bill is based on non-compete laws, the idea that government agencies should not compete without private enterprise. If the bill were to pass information provided by at least two private corporations, would not be also legal to post on any government websites. This article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains it more.
A silly example - if you can wal into a rest stop along any Interstate in Ohio and pick up a free roadmap, provided by the state, despite the fact that if you'd walked into the gas station only a few steps away, you'd have to pay for a similar map. But if you wanted to download an Ohio map online, you couldn't because Mapquest and Expedia already provide that service.
This really punctuates the continuing mind-set of some legislators that the Internet is somehow outside the scope of traditional government services, rather than what it really is, just an extension of those services in a new form. Citizens are legally entitled to free government information. Yet, somehow when that information is provided online, in a more readibly available manner, it is subject to different rules.
(links via (beSpacific)
The UK is preparing to enact nation-wide eVoting by 2006. Toward that goal, they'll be offering 17 pilot eVoting schemes include Digital TV, wireless text messaging, touch-tome telephone, internet, and kiosks. All in all, the government will be testing more than 40 different voting methods, with the opportunity for 1.4 people to participate in the pilot programs for the upcomming May elections.
Accenture (formerly known as Anderson Consulting) is a corporate entity frequently partnered with governments around the world to provide eGov solutions. They've recently issued their fourth annual eGovernment Leadership Report .
Their study identified five major trends in eGovernment:
** eGovernment matures through a series of plateaus.
No eGov iniative goes online fully formed. Even with a growing collection of case studies/best practices, eGov is an iterative process. As returns are reaped on simple initatives, more ambitious goals are set.
** Value drives eGovernment visions.
Compared to the early days of dot.com, "just because it'd be cool" isn't a good enough reason for a government agency to do something online. There must be a tangible ROI (saved money/time, increased customer satisfaction) to justify eGov inititatives.
** Customer Relationship Management (CRM) underpins eGovernment.
This should be a given in any industry. If the customer's needs are met, than an initiative is successful. A happy, engaged customer, remains a customer.
** Increasing take-up is a priority.
The more services you provide online, the more users you need using those services to make it worthwhile. The question is, how do you inform people about, and get them to use those services.
** New eGovernment targets are needed.
The study found that a lot of eGov iniatives were started to achieve a basic level of service as compared to other similar governments. This isn't neccessarily an effective way to do business. The question should alwasy be "how do I serve my customers," not "how does my competitor serve their customers."
The five plateaus mentioned above are: Online Presence, Basic Capability, Service Availability, Mature Delivery, and Service Transofrmation. The meaning of first four should be relatively clear, but the last might need a little explaining. The way I understand it, service transformation involves using eGov not merely as a way to duplicate services provided offline as well, but as a way for effecting change throughout all levels of the government and serving the needs of users in ways that aren't served otherwise.
Does your Congressman have a website? Look for your Representative or Senator.
I didn't count, but it looks like all the Senators and most, if not all, of the Representatives have their own websites. It is interesting that, while all the congressmen are hosted within the Senate and House website, each is designed and maintained seperately, and some are pretty awful. It seems like it would be more efficient to provide a template (or a choice from a number of templates), and a content management system. Kind of like Blogger here.
This would certainly make it easier (and cheaper) for to develop and maintain each Senate/Rep site. And though most users wouldn't need to visit the sites for any Senators or Representative other than their own, an arguement can definitely be made that a uniform template would make site navigation much simpler.
Last week the Council for Excellence in Government released a report on the attitudes and expectations of eGov. The study found that half of all Americans and 75% of all Internet users have interacted on some level with an eGov website.
The research found that those performing tasks, like renewing their drivers licence, were easier online, which is a pretty obvious conclusion. Actually, all the findings were obvious - users would like to complete tedious tasks (like filing taxes, and paying parking tickets) online, they felt eGov would only get better over the course of years, but there were some privacy issues. Still, it is sometimes worthwhile to do a survey like this to confirm that end-users and developers are actually on the same page as far as expectations and desires.
Read the full report.
This isn't strictly about eGov, but it is related. The Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions is a database of over 300 court decisions shaping the law of the web. Each case includes an extensive summary filled with facts, analysis and pertinent quotes. Topics addressed include "copyright, trademark, dilution and other intellectual property issues, jurisdiction, linking, framing, meta tags, clip-art, defamation, domain name, e-mail, encryption, gambling, click-wrap agreements, shrink-wrap licenses, spamming," and more.
I was a bit wary of this material, since it is collected and written by a law firm, but the site has been approved by Scout, so it is definitely on the level.
England has a pretty comprehensive effort to enable their government services. I haven't read through the entire strategy document, but it seems that, wheras the here in the US the national government's strategy involves consolidating federal activities to a few central departments, the UK policy enourages more activity at the local level.
I suppose that has something to do with the way our constitution was written, what with state's rights and decentralized government and all that, but it will be interesting to contrast the effectiveness of a top-down vs. a bottom-up development strategy. It seems like the UK has an immediate edge, because concentrating on local iniatitives will allow them to deliver new services more quickly (for example, they speculate that the elements for eVoting could be in place as early as 2008), but the US strategy has a long range benefit in creating a stable platform to support more ambitious future expansions. We'll see.
The Center for Digital Government is a thinktank/consultancy. I'm not sure how useful their research-for hire is to their target market of "government, industry and education leaders," but I enjoyed the (free) reports on top Digital Cities and Digital States, and the general Best of the Web awards.
They are in the process of compiling the 2003 awards, but you can take a look at the 2002 winners.
Some of the criteria for sites being judged were:
A visible privacy statement
Actual online services, so that citizens can complete transactions online from start to finish
A policy for abiding by the W3C accessibility standards
Innovation and use of Web-based online technology to deliver government or education services (what is new or cutting edge about the site).
Efficiency or time saved (internally, or citizen use)
David Fletcher claims to be "a long-time egov advocate." And he is from Utah. That is all I can learn about him from his website. Still, his Government and Technology Weblog has archives strecthing for nearly a year, and he seems to really know his stuff. His weblog isn't specifically about eGov, though he does have a seperate category for it, and hits stories as diverse as online fishing licences, wireless health alerts, Senate XML feeds, and eFiling his taxes.
eGov Links is a portal/directory of sites and news stories on a variety of topics, including accessibility, eVoting, security and privacy. Also categorized geographically. This site is relatively sparse at the moment, but seems to be a growing community.
Egov.it was developed in conjunction with the Global Conference on Reinventing Government, held earlier this year in Naples, Italy. The developers tried to provide an overview of e-government websites from all over the world. This is an annotated directory of over 1,000 sites, with links to 10,000 more.
The English isn't stellar, but the concept and information are. Don't be put off by the language or the quirky interface, this site is worth the effort.
The budget and strategy discussed below are all part of the new Office of Electronic Government, which, ironically, doesn't have a website of its own yet.
The OEG was officially created April 16, 2003, and is headed by Mark Forman. Furman is basically the United States' first CIO. Good for him. Forman has an Masters in Applied Microeconomics, was in the Army Corps of Engineers, created and led IBM's Public Sector e-business Consulting Services, and has been involved in various branchs of government for nearly 20 years (including having a hand in the Paper Reduction Act).
Upon the announcement of Forman's new position, he participated in an online chat, answering questions received from the public. Questions hit a variety of topics, from policy, to technology, to privacy and budget concerns.
ElectricNews.net:E-GOVERNMENT is a collection of eGov stories from the Irish technology newswire. There is an obvious technology focus to the articles, rather than a social or public policy focus, and the news is also obviously very Eurocentric, but this is an excellent and frequently updated (several new stories a week) source for information.
Here is the Official e-Gov Strategy
This isn't the most exciting read ever, but a good one nonetheless. The basic gist is that eGov activities are to consolidated under the central authority of the Office of E-Government and Information Technology for the purpose of making "the Federal government more results oriented, efficient and citizen-centered."
Basically, the goal of the strategy and the new office is to help make the Feds web activities more useful from a citizen standpoint, rather than a organizational standpoint. It will be really interesting to see how well they are able to accomplish this, considering a lot of commercial organizations still use their web prescence as a marketing tool, rather than for customer service. I can't imagine the government bureaucracy will be any more agile and responsive than big business has been, but we can hope, right?
Congress has cut $40 million from the federal egov initiative. When you talk about the federal budget juggles trillions of dollars, $40 million doesn't seem like a whole lot, but Bush had only asked for $45 million.
So, even though "half of the American population has used a federal, state or local government Web site," Congress thinks it's fair to allocate less than a quarter per citizen to allow increased access to government documents and services.
This couldn't be a egov blog without the first official post being to the First Gov website. It is a portal to all U.S. Federal material on the web. If you can't find it on First Gov, it doesn't exist.