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Worldwide, Governments Take Advantage of the Internet to Serve Citizens

Although electronic government is still some years away, governments at all levels over the world are beginning to offer more electronic services to the public, according to a recent General Services Administration report.

At the request of the Intergovernmental Advisory Board, GSA's Office of Intergovernmental Solutions (OIS), a part of the Office of Governmentwide Policy, conducted a survey to find out what electronic services governments are providing. OIS reviewed more than 200 sites and described 40 of them in the report, "Integrated Service Delivery: Governments Using Technology to Serve the Citizen."

In the United States, state and local governments provide more services directly to the citizen than does the federal government. However, local governments are normally strapped for resources and slow to take advantage of new technology.

This is changing, according to Program Director Sally Matthews. "Local governments are now utilizing web-based applications that let citizens renew their driver's licenses, pay fines, or search records," she said.

"At the national level, we see a trend where services are targeted to specific groups of citizens. For example, Access America for Students electronically integrates services and information previously provided by a number of federal agencies.

She also called attention to Navy's Lifelines, a multimedia transactional site for military personnel. "It's really great, Matthews said. "It's a very advanced site that provides many services such as online banking. Navy is even replacing keyboards for those that will accept Smart Cards."

"At the international level," she continued, "a few countries are providing services based on life events. Singapore's e-Citizen Centre site is an outstanding example of this approach. Cities are also using the web to foster community involvement. Berlin, Germany uses the Internet to create a virtual neighborhood. Citizens can register as virtual citizens, get e-mail, and receive web page hosting."

The future of electronic government looks promising, according to the report.

For Hard Copies

In addition to the online report above, you can order copies by calling Renee Hughes at (202) 501-291. For more information, contact Sally Matthews at (202) 501-1476.

November 1, 1999