National Partnership for Reinventing Government

Results of Electronic Government Initiatives

January 12, 2001

NPR worked with agencies, the Chief Information Officers Council, and the Council for Excellence in Government to implement the President's December 1999 directive to give all Americans greater access to their government by expanding the use of e-Gov. Here are the results:

One-stop Government Information. On June 24, 2000, in a web cast address to the nation, President Clinton announced a plan to create FirstGov a single Internet portal connecting users to all government sites. The President challenged government and industry to create a site that allows citizens to find every on-line resource offered by the federal government at one easy-to-use location, and to search government information faster and more efficiently than ever before and by topic rather than by agency. He also challenged government and industry to finish it within 90 days. The site launched on schedule in September 2000.

FirstGov introduces a single point-of-entry to one of the largest and most useful collection of web pages in the world. It allows users to search all 27 million federal agency web pages at one time. The FirstGov search engine can search half a billion documents in less than one-quarter of a second, and handle millions of searches a day. To speed searches, FirstGov allows citizens to find information intuitively -- by subject or by keyword.

Federal Government Forms On-line. A key goal of the Clinton-Gore administration had been to ensure that the Federal government provides the highest quality service to the American people. To help make government services more accessible to its customers, NPR worked with the President's Management Council to place the forms for 500 of the most used government services on-line at a central Internet location. Citizens can download and print the forms via FirstGov. Many of the forms may be filled in and submitted electronically. Those forms that require a hand-written signature can be printed and submitted in paper form. The availability of government forms in an easy to access format is an instrumental step in making all appropriate government services available via the Internet by 2003.

E-mail Access to Public Officials. In keeping with agency commitments to “put customers first,” a high priority on developing customer service solutions for the Internet environment. A mainstay of these solutions is to provide greater access to agency officials through the use of e-mail. NPR worked to ensure that all executive branch agencies provide specialized email addresses for high profile programs or organizations within the agencies. In fact, the majority of agencies have made provisions for the citizen to contact the agency head directly through a public e-mail address.

Additionally, to better serve of customers and partners in government and industry, the Chief Information Officers' Council has created the Federal White Pages. The White Pages provide anyone with an Internet browser free access to a searchable database of telephone and e-mail contact information for over 400,000 Federal officials in 20 Departments and agencies. Citizens can also access the White Pages wirelessly from most Internet-ready telephones by navigating to the same URL. Complementing the White Pages effort is the General Services Administration's Federal Blue Pages, which allows citizens to look up organizational contacts or a specific government service.

Identifying Best Practices. Identifying and adapting the management techniques and business processes of private and public sector world-class leaders is instrumental in changing the way government does business. Many agencies are developing strategic blueprints to adapt better business processes, pursue commercial alternatives, consolidate redundant functions, and streamline organizations. Several agencies have utilized the expert services of leading public and private sector best practices consulting firms such as the Gartner Group and the Benton Foundation.

To continue the implementation of   “best practices” in the government, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government and the E-Government Committee of the Chief Information Officers Council created a web-searchable database of “Success Stories in E-Government.” This database contains over 200 success stories related to e-government activities at federal, state, and local levels. The database is managed by Chief Information Officers Council and will be available on its website, which serves as a central clearinghouse of information about e-government best practices, success stories, and lessons learned, in February 2001.

Making Services Available through Kiosks. NPR's Hassle-Free Communities kiosk initiative piloted the use of electronic kiosks - free-standing electronic access to government internet sites in shopping malls, and train and bus stations. The kiosks provided city, state and federal government information, such as taxes, immigration, child support and telephone numbers for government offices. Customers can also print federal, state, and local forms and send e-mails to government officials. By late 2000, there were kiosks in 36 communities around the country from Bangor, Maine to Miami, Florida and from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles, California. The sponsorship for the initiative then moved to the General Services Administration.

Building an E-government Infrastructure. To facilitate the transformation to electronic government, NPR worked with the Council for Excellence in Government, along with other public and private partners, to develop an architectural blueprint to enable Americans to conduct all major transactions online by 2003. The blueprint initiative began in November 1999 with a series of symposia attended by more than 100 public and private electronic commerce and information technology leaders who recognized the urgency of identifying a vision of e-government and bringing it into operation. In considering information technology's capacity to help government deliver services and engage citizens more effectively, they also examined the matrix of complicated, interrelated issues involved. They issued a blueprint in early 2001 calling for a Cabinet-level position dedicated to e-Gov, a strategic investment fund, and a commitment to ensuring all Americans have access to the Internet, regardless of income, disability, or educational background.

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