Albany, NY - Research conducted by the University at Albany's Center for Technology in Government (CTG) finds that, despite a range of barriers, local government leaders are tapping into electronic government initiatives to improve operations and outreach in their municipalities.
E-government is using information technology to support government operations, engage citizens and provide government services.
"The two questions that many local governments are trying to answer are how should I think about e-government and what are others doing to make it work?" says Meghan Cook, CTG project leader. "Through five regional e-government workshops we focused on those vital questions and gained a broad perspective on local e-government across the state."
The report, entitled Making a Case for Local e-Government, is based on real-life experiences of local government pioneers throughout New York State. CTG held five regional workshops and conducted interviews with local government professionals who shared information on their e-government projects. They detailed strategies, barriers and benefits of their e-government initiatives, and shared insights and advice for colleagues who are just starting out.
"This briefing serves as a communications tool to assist local governments trying to use technology to pursue e-government," Meghan adds. "By providing case studies of successful initiatives, along with recommendations and advice from e-government veterans, local government officials can approach their own projects better informed and with reasonable expectations of success."
The briefing features the comments of a number of local government officials representing all corners of the state. Their perspectives and hands-on knowledge provide solid ground for colleagues planning e-government initiatives for their communities.
"Local government is given a set of tasks to perform. When we are forced to choose between plowing the roads and buying a computer system, we have to plow the roads," explains John Woodward, Schenectady County Clerk. "But I also have a commitment to provide citizens with a wide-open door to government information through the Internet. The challenge is making sure that it's easy for the user without making them pay for it."
E-government programs are as much about constituent engagement as office efficiency, notes Robert Feldman, Trustee in the Village of New Paltz. "We are really trying innovative ways to get more people involved in our village government. We have started to audio broadcast our village meetings live over the Internet. Trustees respond to real-time e-mail questions during the meeting. This new way of interacting is generating a lot of interest and excitement in the community," he adds.
The mission of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany is to foster public sector innovation, enhance capability, generate public value, and support good governance. We carry out this mission through applied research, knowledge sharing, and collaboration at the intersection of policy, management, and technology.
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