The United Kingdom has been particularly bullish with its e-government efforts. But a recent survey indicates that taxpayers might not notice all the hard work. "Nearly three quarters of the public have not noticed the impact of the investment in the UK's e-Government initiative, while almost half of those who have noticed are unhappy with it, a new report concludes. The survey, undertaken by eService software provider Transversal, has revealed that the majority of UK citizens have a poor perception of e-Government," the Netimperative site reported.
The European Commission has a Web portal that links to information about a number of EU e-government initiatives.
Back in the USA, there's a federal push for patient health care records to be digitized. Earlier this summer, President Bushannounced that he wants paper records to go by the wayside in 10 years. Yesterday, more details of the president's plan were released. "The plan, while short on specifics, marks the biggest effort by the federal government so far to encourage the use of computer technology to modernize health care, just as other industries have turned to technology to cut costs and
improve quality," USA Today reported. "More than 90% of the nation's health care transactions still occur via phone, fax or an exchange of paper. Technology could cut the nation's $1.6 trillion-a-year health care bill by at least 10%, says Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. He added that it might not take 10 years to meet Bush's goal: 'In the next couple of years, we will see electronic health records.'"
Reuters cited an HHS statistic showing that only "13 percent of hospitals and 14 to 28 percent of physicians' practices say they have electronic health systems."
According to The New York Times, "[c]ost has been a big hurdle. Most hospitals do not make money, so they forgo technology investments that seem to have an uncertain return. And until recently, bedside technology has often been expensive and cumbersome. The spread of light, low-cost hand-held computers has changed that – making it much more practical for the government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to promote standards for ordering and processing electronic prescriptions."
Federal Computer Week reported this week that a federally funded program in California, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Utah is trying to help doctor's officers move patient records to the digital age.
RIP CAPPS II
The federal government's controversial CAPPS II airline passenger screening program was put on ice last week, with the Bush administration acknowledging the program would have to be retooled before it would be ready to fly. The news was heralded by privacy advocates, who blasted the program for prying too much into passenger data to attempt to spot potential terrorists. (Read my Filter column last week for a rundown of media reports on the program's demise in its current state.)
The Associated Press reported this week that "[t]echnology problems and privacy concerns doomed the passenger prescreening program, while the enormous cost – an estimated $5 billion – has held up progress installing large bomb-screening machines in airports. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, worries that the political pressure needed for such initiatives is waning. 'The further away you get from 9/11, the louder the voices become for a normal approach to security,' said Mica." Officials at the Transportation Security Administration said in January that the prescreening project – called Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System, or CAPPS II – could be up and running this summer. But the agency never was able to allay concerns about privacy, and last week acting TSA Administrator David Stone said CAPPS II would be
'reshaped and repackaged.'"
Wired News posted a feature article looking at former Army spy Bill Scannell's efforts to discredit CAPPS through a Web site he set up called BoycottDelta.org – a site he set up after news leaked that Delta was among several airlines that turned over passenger data to the government so it could test CAPPS II technology. "He created the firestorm," Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Wired. "Beginning with Boycott Delta, he sort of showed that there was a huge reservoir of bad feelings about these passenger-screening programs."
With the cancellation of CAPPS II, the big loser may be Lockheed Martin Corp., which has landed a $12 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to help with the screening program. According to a report from Federal Computer Week, "Suzanne Luber, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department 'declined to speculate whether the $12 million CAPPS II contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. would be revised. There is no projected timeline for the completion of the revamped program, Luber said."