Fairfax County's answer is the Paper Reduction Task Force – a "group of experts from departments as varied as public affairs, archives and information technology that has been meeting to map out change. The goal? To fully usher in the electronic age in Fairfax. ... Other changes are in the works: more printing and copying on both sides of the page instead of one, more correspondence and other county business through e-mail, and more production of big documents on CD-ROM, such as the publication of the Park Authority's recent annual report."
Still Accountable at the Federal Level
Federal e-government spending may be on the back-burner, but agencies are still being held accountable for meeting aggressive e-gov goals.
A report released in March detailed the federal government's progress on e-government initiatives from fiscal year 2003. And the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees e-government reform, recently noted that several federal agencies were making e-government progress.
But clearly, there is major room for improvement. In the latest government scorecard rating, released in June, the performance of agencies in different management areas, the Transportation Department, Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration all received "green" scores, the highest rating on the OMB's scale for grading e-government work. So too did the Office of Personnel Management and the
National Science Foundation, which maintained green ratings they achieved in the previous scorecard.
"One major disappointment is the Department for Homeland Security. It is failing in several areas of the management agenda, and appears to be moving backwards on e-government with its rating dropping from yellow to red. Embarrassingly the OMB itself also failed to improve its ratings, receiving four red scores and a yellow across the management agenda," according to a report from Kablenet.com, reprinted on ZDNET's UK site.
Washington Technology also reported last week on the scorecard's
findings. See a Government IT Review I wrote in May on the previous scorecard
Agencies aren't shy about showing off their e-government progress. On Wednesday, OPM said its USAJOBS Web site had added new features. "With the latest enhancements, job seekers are now receiving expanded information in their job search notices including salary and closing date. This enhanced content gives job seekers more decision making data right in their e-mail," OPM said. For the month of May, OPM said it sent more than 3 million USAJOBS e-mail notices to people. That's a good sign it's a service that is getting used. Meanwhile, in May the SBA started a new Web site that businesses can use to obtain federal government information.
Fancy online tools and sites are not only helpful, but help federal agency sites get good reviews. "Americans are reasonably happy with e-government Web sites, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which gave them an overall score of 70.3 for the second quarter," CMP Media's Transform Magazine reported. E-gov sites bested the NYTimes.com's score of 70, yet not surprisingly fell below the top scores of e-retail sites (84) and travel sites (77). The rankings are based on online surveys voluntarily filled out by site visitors on criteria such as accuracy of information, freshness of content, usefulness of information, ability to accomplish desired tasks and ease of navigation."
Favorite Government Web Sites
Is there a government Web site that you find particularly helpful? Drop me a note telling me why and I will include selected reader comments in an upcoming column. Please include your full name and the city and state you are writing from.
E-Gov's Global Reach
The e-government push is not just an American phenomenon. Thom C. de Graaf, the Dutch Minister for Government Reform and Kingdom Relations and deputy prime minister, posted his e-government plans on a government Web site, according to the EurActiv.com European news portal. De Graaf concluded that "relatively few transactions are being conducted digitally as yet" and "now is the time for local authorities to make the leap from digital information services to digital transaction services. In order to be able to do this they have to establish a link between the electronic front office and back office."