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E-Government E-Government

Issue
What kind of government do citizens need, or more importantly, want in the 21st century? This question is fundamental in shaping the government of the future, one that uses e-government but understands that meeting customer expectations requires more than providing online services. This "adaptive government" where citizens design the services of the future is what Cisco calls The Connected Republic.

The information age has changed society and citizens have greater expectations now than in the past. This change is creating a fundamental shift in the culture of government. Those in public policy and government must respond much more quickly to citizens and make services more accessible and understandable. Progressive governments understand the importance of using technology to provide such services; moreover, they realize that the quality of the relationship between government and the people is equally-if not more-important.

The Connected Republic Defined
The "Connected Republic" puts people and communities at the center of new networks of knowledge, service, trust and accountability. The approach helps define the role of government, explains how to modernize the public sector and shows how to strengthen democracy. The Connected Republic is a far-reaching and difficult goal. It is achievable through understanding and making use of the transformation potential of interactive and networked information. This transformation affects the people who work with and for governments, as well as the people for whom governments exist.

The next frontier for governments is to take advantage of the value and power of networks to connect people with government entities within their communities, creating an environment where governments are truly organized for and adapt first and foremost to the wants and needs of citizens.

Impact to Business
The proliferation of e-government creates the possibility of entirely new IT products and services. From a corporate user perspective, a more efficient government means a more efficient business. Businesses can access government procurement processes quickly and fairly. They can more readily access and relate to regulators and other licensing authorities. In addition, paperwork can be filed electronically, reducing the total cost of interaction with government. These cost reductions are passed to consumers and customers and increase business efficiency overall.

Government itself is also the "business" impacted. Today's governments and public institutions can take advantage of the Internet to empower citizens to improve communications with government, drive economic development, lower transaction costs, shorten lines and eliminate burdensome paperwork. Governments should view the Internet as a way to streamline their own internal systems and become more efficient and productive - much like business does.

Status
Governments worldwide have made significant progress in moving services online. There has been tremendous growth in e-government services, with most international, national and local governments devising strategies, establishing action plans and implementing programs.

For example, the Government of Ontario, which is the second largest of Canada's 10 self-governing provinces, has deployed several innovative solutions. The government installed a robust, Internet-based network to serve the needs of more than 60,000 government employees and 12 million citizens, and a Shared Services Bureau was created to optimize delivery of human resources, finance and procurement services. Major initiatives including business transformation, e-services and Web strategies have quickly delivered results. In less than a year, the Government of Ontario increased citizen satisfaction by more than 90 percent.

The approaches differ greatly and have varying degrees of success. In some cases, government intentions are good, but citizens still lack fundamental access to computers or lack the essential skills to use electronic services. Nevertheless, the benefits of these efforts are paying off. Canada was ranked number one in "government online services" by the World Economic Forum in their 2003-2004 Global Information Technology Report. Among the top ten countries were France (3rd), Singapore (5th) and Australia (9th). The United States ranked 4th.

The movement towards online services is so prolific that a number of international institutions are involved in promoting e-commerce. For example, the World Bank has identified e-government as a means to promote development of local economies. The Bank has put together an E-Government Handbook for Developing Countries to help promote development via e-government. The Bank highlights five major benefits of e-government: (1) better service delivery to citizens; (2) improved services for businesses; (3) transparency and anti-corruption; (4) empowerment through information; (5) efficient government purchasing.

Cisco Position
Cisco understands the many complex challenges that face modern governments.
We encourage governments globally to move their products and services online, increasing availability of information and strengthening commitments to provide citizens with the most efficient, customer-focused service possible.
Cisco is committed to the public sector, to helping government worldwide use the power of their networks as a catalyst for change and to build e-government strategies that support the needs of the people.
We believe the next wave of transformation will have a dramatic impact on the public sector and on society.

Key Messages
Many governments understand that trust and relationships must be developed between those who govern and those who ultimately determine government, the people.
Visionary governments should go beyond the "e" in e-government and increase its value to citizens through better government.
Implementing this vision starts with a framework for action in organizational governance, Web-based capabilities and technology enablers.
E-Government offers tremendous advantages for everyone involved:
    For government improved productivity, maximized returned on investment and increased citizen satisfaction are attained and public servants are more satisfied with their jobs;
    For citizens a marked increase in services they want and need, and improvements in how those services are delivered;
    For business, quicker interaction with government lowers costs and contributes to overall economic growth; and
    For all taxpayers, more is provided for each tax dollar contributed.
If 24x7x365 availability and convenience, customer focus and personalization became the norm in the public sector, it would not just make life easier, it would fundamentally change the way that people view government itself.

Resources
The World Bank's E-government page
eGov Links
World Economic Forum Technology Report 2003-2004 "Readiness for the Networked World"
New Zealand's e-government page
Invest @ Chile
The US e-Government Strategy
Net Impact: Europe eGovernment
Connected Cities
EEurope 2005: An Information Society for All

As of January 2005