EXPAND THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL INFORMATION ENTERPRISE
FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WORKING TOGETHER AS ONE
Imagine this: A single mother visits a welfare office in Atlanta to determine eligibility for assistance. A state government worker enters her identification into a computer and immediately receives details of her employment history in several other states and counties, records of her three dependent children, and verification that she is currently unemployed. She applies for other entitlements, a job which matches her skills, and school assistance programs for her children.
Since our country was founded, the relationships among federal, state, and local governments have preoccupied politicians, scholars, lawyers, and citizens. Today, the roles of the three levels of government are being reexamined with renewed energy. Budgetary pressures and rapid changes in human services, education, training, economic development, communications, and criminal justice are causing each level of government to reexamine its roles and relationships with each other. A new form of governance is emerging.
As relationships between each level of government change, so do the public's expectations. Citizens expect to receive higher levels of service and reductions in the cost of government. Many citizens view the three levels of government as a single entity. Their primary experiences are with state and local governments, not the federal government. When dealing with government, citizens want benefits or services delivered quickly and efficiently -- it matters little to them whether a federal, state, or local government agency is providing the service. For example, following a major snowstorm, citizens don't care if the federal highways are opened quickly if the state and local access roads are not plowed for several more days. Homeowners want and expect federal, state, and local responses in a coordinated manner.
At the same time that intergovernmental relationships, ideas, and methods for providing services are changing, information technology is creating important opportunities and new methods for governments to work together to improve citizen services. Information technology, through capabilities such as facsimile, electronic mail, and the Internet, is also providing the opportunity for governments and citizens to communicate more effectively.
NEED FOR CHANGE
During its examination of government operations, the National Performance Review noted that a lack of coordination exists among federal departments and among federal, state, and local governments. Because of budget realities, priorities for using resources are changing and agencies can no longer afford duplication of efforts. The various levels of government must work cooperatively and use information technology to facilitate information sharing partnerships. The traditional stovepipe model for government operations and service delivery, with each level of government initiating, implementing, and managing programs and services within its own framework and culture, is no longer appropriate.
To facilitate the establishment and growth of partnerships, the Government Information Technology Services (GITS) Working Group created the Intergovernmental Enterprise Panel to work with state and local governments and industry to promote cooperation and information sharing. The Panel is composed of information technology professionals from all levels of government and from industry.1 Federal, state, and local government co-chairs coordinate the Panel's activities. Today, the Intergovernmental Enterprise Panel is working to promote and sponsor intergovernmental cooperation and service delivery systems that use information technology to share information rapidly and effectively.
The Intergovernmental Enterprise Panel has identified and recognized 14 state and local government systems for excellence in information sharing between at least two levels of government.2 These "best practices" are a step in the right direction but represent only a small fraction of the potential benefits of coordinated intergovernmental initiatives.
The results will begin to be more visible as federal, state, and local governments continue the process of learning to work together. The successes of the intergovernmental efforts in the past few years, illustrated by the awardees and other projects, clearly demonstrate the need to capitalize on the opportunities for intergovernmental program coordination made possible by information technology.
1. Coordinate intergovernmental efforts to prepare information technology systems to operate in the Year 2000.
The Year 2000 problem looms large and becomes more critical as the century change draws near. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are working effectively to address the Year 2000 problem in federal information technology systems. Efforts to share federal Year 2000 information and resources with the states are not as far along. Federal and state systems must interact successfully to assure continued operation of federal benefits programs administered by states. The Year 2000 Interagency Committee of the CIO Council should cooperate with the Intergovernmental Enterprise Panel (IEP) and the National Association of State Information Resource Executives (NASIRE) to prepare an action plan that would ensure a smooth transition.
The IEP should identify key groups at the various levels of government that are currently working on the Year 2000 problem. The IEP should become an entity to coordinate those efforts, such as sharing information using a Year 2000 home page on the Internet. The IEP should work with the General Services Administration to provide schedules that contain Year 2000 compliant information technology products and open them for state and local government use. This project should be included in the priority projects identified by the IEP.
2. Establish a strategic plan with specific actions to develop additional intergovernmental information technology opportunities further.
By July 1997, the IEP should prepare a plan that outlines strategies to sustain efforts among principal policy, administrative, and technology leaders in the three levels of government. The IEP needs to establish the goals and objectives that intergovernmental information technology programs should meet and the functional areas and types of participating agencies that should participate in those programs. The IEP must identify individuals/groups that are empowered to represent the various levels of government. For example, the National Governors Association and the NASIRE are but two of the many groups that are working on coordinated initiatives. The IEP should identify and seek endorsement of the plan from these groups to ensure long-term support commitments and stakeholder buy-in.
3. Obtain action plan buy-in from the three levels of government.
The action plan should be signed by representatives of the three levels of government and the IEP should present the action plan to the Government Information Technology Services (GITS) Board by August 1997.
4. Prioritize projects and identify barriers that must be overcome to ensure success.
By October 1997, the IEP should prioritize the projects identified in its action plan and identify barriers and obstacles that must be overcome to achieve success. Knowledgeable individuals at each level of government should be interviewed to identify obstacles. These obstacles may be legislative, regulatory, institutional, or financial in nature or they could be caused by process or human resources problems. A list of the top intergovernmental information technology barriers that the IEP believes must be addressed, along with recommended actions to eliminate them, should be compiled and presented in the report.
1. GITS Working Group Charter, The Panel for Federal, State, and Local Coordinated Use of Intergovernmental Information Resources and Management -- The Intergovernmental Enterprise, 1993.
2. The IEP awardees for "Streamlined Service Delivery" include:
The IEP awardees for "Knowledge/Technology Transfer" include: