A13: IMPROVE THE SHARING OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EXPERIENCE WORLDWIDE
GOVERNMENTS HELPING EACH OTHER Imagine this: One national government is considering investing in new technology to provide better weather information to its citizens. Through a cooperatively operated focal point it easily connects with experts in other governments who have substantial experience in weather information systems. These other governments have learned that there are dangers ahead for the government about to invest scarce resources. Some roads will lead to problems and unexpected expense. Others can lead to success while reducing costs. The governments share this information and a wiser information technology investment is made.
The proliferation of information technology (IT) and communications is shrinking the globe. Economic and political issues no longer confine themselves within national borders. Governments face common challenges. As in the U.S., information technology can help address many of those challenges. An active exchange of information about sound practice and lessons learned can help improve service to the citizens worldwide.
Several nations have provided the U.S. federal government information and examples of how to use information technology. The United Kingdom government has shared its customer service standards that were suggested by citizens. The government of New Zealand has provided data about how to organize and operate performance-based organizations. The European Community initiatives to implement smart card technology have provided valuable information and lessons learned.
The Maltese Government recently requested information about a U.S. agricultural system that records data about farmers' production and marketing practices. Maltese officials connected with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, who provided test information about seed germination and purity.
Danish officials met with Massachusetts officials to learn more about the Massachusetts Access to Government Network (MAGNet). MAGNet, a high-speed communications infrastructure, will enable a self service government that citizens can use through home computers, the Internet, and other access methods.
To promote this kind of information sharing, the U.S. government is active in three international programs: the G7 Government On-Line (GOL) program; the International Council for Information Technology in Government Administration (ICA); and the Public Management program of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The G7 Government On-Line program emphasizes innovation to provide better service to the citizens. Seven nations currently participate in the GOL project: the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and United Kingdom. The U.S. has created the International Government IT Directory to accelerate the sharing of information technology management experience among leading IT officials in all countries in the world.
ICA is a 30-year old organization with membership from 25 nations. This organization emphasizes improving IT management and direction in national governments. Recently, the ICA has emphasized the establishment and use of electronic government programs. To contribute, the U.S. has shared its experiences with the use of credit and smart cards and the results of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review.
The OECD, comprised of the major industrialized nations, is undertaking a study on the impact of information technology on policy formulation and decision making in democratic governments. The study focuses on the experiences of OECD nations in the use of Internet technology to disseminate government information and to promote citizen interaction with government. U.S. initiatives are being tested throughout the OECD and lessons learned are being shared.
NEED FOR CHANGEPrivate sector companies measure their programs, in part, by comparing themselves to leaders in their industry. Similarly, national governments need to be able to evaluate the performance of their programs. To do so, they must find a way to share experiences.
Although much successful ad hoc sharing is underway, greater focus is needed. In addition, experience has shown that the practices of U.S. state governments are easily as helpful as U.S. national examples.
ACTIONS1. Provide a focal point for intergovernmental sharing.
The General Services Administration (GSA), through its Office of Intergovernmental Solutions, should serve as a focal point to facilitate sharing of information technology experience across national boundaries. Such facilitation should include:
2. Support the activities of the G7.
Through their role as the U.S. representatives to the G7, GSA should work as a catalyst with other organizations within the U.S. government to ensure that the G7 GOL project is successful. Support should be provided in the following areas:
By December 1997, the GSA Office of Intergovernmental Solutions should identify and share best practices in federal, state, and local governments, the international community, and private industry for dissemination and application within the G7.