E-Gov: Reach Out
and Touch It
July 31, 2000
Abul-Hawa, the manager of the Maryland Avenue Safeway in northeast
Washington, DC, is the man responsible for making sure shoppers
leave "his" store happy and satisfied. His shelves are
stocked, the aisles are clean and clear, and employees are alert
and standing by to help shoppers.
not all. On July 27, Abul-Hawa offered a new service for his patrons
-- an interactive kiosk in the stores lobby that opens a
portal to another universe - the world of online government services
and benefits. Officials from the federal government, the Mayors
office, and private sector companies cut the ribbon on a simple
touch-screen computer linking shoppers to more than 150 government
services - an opportunity for people who dont own computers
or dont know how to use them to get information and services.
cruising the aisles of Abul-Hawas grocery store can send
email to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, contact
their local elected officials, print out federal tax forms, and
scroll through bios of special needs children available for adoption.
With a touch of a finger, they can also obtain information from
government programs that provide support to eligible seniors,
single parents, and others who need services.
Community Initiative Brings E-Gov to Customers
As part of
the "Hassle-Free Community" initiative sponsored by
the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, government
agencies at the federal, state, and local level are working together
to reach out to all areas and populations. "We want to deliver
government services how, when and where people need them," said
NPR Director Morley Winograd. "The kiosks are being placed
where people live and shop so that getting forms or information
from city hall to the federal government is as convenient as shopping
of Communities Will Have Kiosks
project is the brainchild of NPR and the General Services Administration.
GSA has committed to bring at least 36 kiosks to communities throughout
the country. Plans to bring the same kind of electronic access
to thousands of communities across the country are in the works
through a public-private alliance. At the July 27 event in northeast
D.C., NPR and GSA officials announced a partnership with private
internet companies Urban Cool Network and GS Planet (Golden Screens
Interactive Technology). The Urban Cool Network will place more
than 3200 kiosks in shopping malls in urban areas where there
are few home computers or limited Internet access. GS Planet plans
to locate thousands of kiosks in public transit centers such as
train and bus stations as well as shopping malls and other public
sites. Both companies are providing the government links at no
cost to the American public.
in Bedford, Texas
the first pilot kiosk in February at a Wal-Mart in Bedford, Texas.
Since then, other federal agencies and private sector partners
across the country have been joining the effort.
vary from the Atlanta Underground to the public library in Winsboro,
Louisiana and the Great Mall in Milpitas, California. The key,
GSA officials say, is to locate them in places where there are
lots of people and the doors stay open evenings and weekends.
and Naturalization Service set up one of the first kiosks in the
East Dallas Fiesta Mart. About 2700 individuals accessed more
than 22,000 services in its first month of operation. INS plans
additional kiosks to serve populations throughout the US/Mexico
Is for Government
to being able to access local, state and federal government services
in one location, customers can also get information by topic.
People may not know that "passports" fall under the
purview of the Department of State. Now they dont need to
Now, if you
need a passport application, and you happen to be standing in
front of one of these new kiosks, all you have to do is touch
the letter "P." For services available to Seniors, touch
"S." For tax information, touch "T." And print
what you need on the nearby printer.
Is For E-gov
at all levels are rushing to create an electronic government -
e-gov - with information, interaction, and transactions.
Kiosks are bringing e-government information and services to people
in their own neighborhoods, even if they dont have a computer.
the end of this story. Its just the beginning.
information about the kiosks or hassle-free communities, contact
Anna Doroshaw or Linda
Walker at the National Partnership for Reinventing Government.
is a writer at the National Partnership for Reinventing Government.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 304-728-3051 x255.
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