Digital Government in the USA

Digital Government in the USA

S. Song (Seoul Development Institute, South Korea)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch053
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Abstract

Recently, digital government is a prevailing concept in public sectors around the world. Regarding digital governments’ contributions to the democratic administration or democratic society (Leigh & Atkinson, 2001), a fundamental question has emerged: How can e-government cultivate citizen participation and citizen competence for public affairs? This question stems from a more basic philosophical question on how we set the relationship between the state and the citizen in the information age (Beachboard, McClure, & Wyman, 1997). The prevailing efficiency-oriented application of e-government has caused side effects and different opinions,1 because digital government strategies just focus on information providers’ interest rather than public interest, and focus more on the managerial side of the digital government than on substantial contribution to increasing citizen participation, citizen competence, responsibility or responsiveness, and transparency or openness (Dunleavy & Margetts, 2000; West & Berman, 2001; Cullen & Houghton, 2000; Relyea, 2002; Beachboard, McClure, & Wyman, 1997). Digital government strategies mainly focused on providing information or simple transaction functions, and they did not pay much attention to interaction with people via digital government systems (Leigh & Atkinson, 2001). Therefore, it is not surprising that a new way of thinking of digital government is emerging, in terms of increasing democratic values like citizen participation and citizen competence for the democratic administration and democratic society (Relyea, 2002). Since the White House established the Web in 19932, there are three perspectives on digital government strategies in the United States (U.S.): policy environment and operational requirements; chronological procedures; and the four-stage model (Relyea, 2002; Beachboard, McClure, & Wyman, 1997; Leigh & Atkinson, 2001; Layne & Lee, 2001). For example, Leigh and Atkinson (2001) explained the e-government development situation based on chronology. They divided the digital government of the U.S. into three phases: Using the Internet to share information (Phase one; 1993-1998), online transactions, service provision (Phase two; 1998-2001) and integration (2001-?)3. In addition, we can see digital government development with the four-stage model. Layne and Lee (2001) analyzed the e-government procedures with four-stage models based on state government in the U.S.: Catalog, transaction, vertical integration and horizontal integration. In the case of catalog, the initial efforts of government Web are focused on establishing an online presence for the government. With transaction as the second stage, digital government initiatives will focus on connecting the internal government system to online interfaces and allowing citizens to transact with government electronically. In the stage of vertical integration, for example, once a citizen filed for a business license at the city government, this information would be transmitted to the state’s business licensing system and to the federal government to obtain an employer identification number. The final stage, horizontal integration, is defined as integration across different functions and services. Some scholars suggest there are four usage criterions for digital government strategies: information dissemination, social equality, privacy rights and public interests, with two broad criteria, such as information-content criteria and ease-of-use criteria (Kaylor, Deshazo, & Van Eck, 2001). These criteria have been applied to the assessment case study for the New Zealand government Web site in 1998 (Cullen & Houghton, 2000)

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