The Establishment of E-Government in the United States at the Grassroots Level

In our group’s examination of the potential for ICTs in government, we evaluated the array of challenges associated with instituting e-government in regions devoid of widespread internet access or smart phones. In an article by Norris and Moon, published in the Public Administration Review, the authors consider the utility of e-government in the US, and why it still has a long way to go.

Norris and Moon explain that all federal agencies, state governments, and 80% of local governments currently have websites, although the sites are largely very basic with only simple downloadable forms and static information pages. They argue that the establishment of two-way transactional e-government (making payments, recording complaints, etc.) at the grassroots level (city or county) is vital because these websites offer the most services directly to the people, and therefore have the greatest potential impact. Ultimately, the authors propose that ICTs can improve efficiency, accuracy, timeliness, effectiveness, and extend workers’ capacity to work.

In our presentation of ICT4D in government, we determined the main challenges to be centered around lacking infrastructure and technology literacy. In contrast, the authors’ interviews with government employees show that the two biggest challenges facing e-government in the US are lacking staff devoted to the website and lacking financial resources. These barriers are substantially less daunting than those facing developing countries, and could be alleviated in the foreseeable future. With increasing resources devoted to researching these potentially valuable technologies, it seems likely that additional government funding could be used for e-government. In the US, where this funding is much more accessible, both of these challenges would be effectively mitigated. Ultimately, in the context of a developed country, ICTs appear more immediately useful, and will offer citizens and government workers alike greater convenience as they are slowly adopted and deployed.

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2 responses to “The Establishment of E-Government in the United States at the Grassroots Level

  • ewaller11

    I also think that one of the biggest challenges for e-governance in the United States (and other developed countries) is the lack of marketing and information about the pre-exisiting options. For example, no one had even heard of the NOLA information kiosks when they were mentioned in class.

  • nslondon

    I think that we can look at the FEMA wesbite post-Superstorm Sandy as an interesting case of e-government – FEMA has a website where they have posted information about relief services. I saw a story on the news the other night that revolved around a Staten Island woman whose home was severely damaged and was still without power. She complained that she heard about information available on the FEMA website, but had no way of getting online. Nor could she call FEMA to find information. She was upset that there was no one on the ground giving people in her position information about making claims and getting relief. While e-government can be very helpful, it is important to keep in mind that it sometimes needs to be supplemented with more traditional forms of information sharing, especially in the case of disaster.

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