PART 2 – W3C eGov Note: Improving Access to Government through Better Use of the Web

Cross-posted from my government design blog

Read Part 1 of this post here.

Yesterday I made it up to the Interoperability section of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) eGovernment Interest Group Note: Improving Access to Government through Better Use of the Web.

I finished the document today, and instead of examining the remaining items in detail I’m going to just spin out some different summaries of what I see as the points of the thing.

The final four issues in the note; Open Government Data, Interoperability, Multi-Channel Delivery, and Identification and Authentication all deal with the technical side of eGovernment, the backend geekery that I love to jaw with the developers about for hours. These are important topics, well worth detailed consideration, but their success depends very much on maneuvering through the challenges of the cultural bureaucracy I described yesterday; the stuff that Gov 2.0 proponents end up jawing about to the decision-makers.

It seems like the W3C eGov group has a good handle on the current state of eGovernment as I understand it. The Note identifies socio-cultural and technological challenges to providing useful and cutting-edge eGovernment services and acknowledges that economic and legislative obstacles to implementing those services exist. At the same time, the note also describes the benefits that an engaged eGov action plan can have for both the efficiency of government agencies and the effectiveness of their interaction with citizens.

Basically, government entities need to simultaneously:

  1. Focus on providing secure, open, useful and reusable data:
    1. while engaging with their citizens on mutual terms; and
    2. welcoming citizen interest, input, and feedback; and
  2. Reassure senior decision makers that:
    1. the benefits of providing secure, open, useful, and reusable data outweigh the risks; and
    2. that welcoming citizen interest, input, and feedback will increase the trust and confidence that citizens have in their government.

This note isn’t meant to offer solutions or guidance for eGov proponents. It’s a State of eGovernment Address, an important calibration point for folks to use in their own quests to create their own solutions and guidelines for the future of eGovernment.

The W3C group knows just how big this eGovernment sandwich is, and has a pretty comprehensive list of all the ingredients it contains. Now all that remains is figuring out the best way eat it.

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