E-government can be described as encompassing all things electronic (UN and ASPA, 2001), but this is not going to serve us well. Nor can we allow e-government to become synonymous with IT (information technology). As Moon (2002) noted, e-government may use IT; the IT should be viewed as a means to an end. Local governments already do use a wide range of specialized knowledge and tools to assess their financial status, to hire and fire employees, provide clean water, etc. E-government does present some unique challenges, but the local government management perspective needs to be that e-government is just one of many services. The IT and geek connection has helped to make e-government a responsibility that is easy to marginalize and leave for someone else to do. If e-government is rocket science, then only rocket scientists will have e-government. Using technology to better serve citizens is a management responsibility, and we need to approach e-government from a public management perspective (Zouridis and Thaens, 2003).
The nature of e-government was aptly described by Alfred Ho (2002) when he linked it to the “reinventing government” movement (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992). Key goals are better service delivery, a focus on citizen needs, and community ownership. As Ho points out, Internet technologies provide ways to achieve these goals in cost effective ways. This is not to say that E-government and reinventing government are linked seamlessly, but they do share a similar heritage and many similar goals. Both emerged during roughly the same time period and both have been driven by similar impulses to break down bureaucratic barriers and transform government.