Twenty First Century Government is enabled by technology— policy is inspired by it, business change is delivered by it, customer and corporate services are dependent on it, and democratic engagement is exploring it. Technology alone does not transform government, but government cannot transform to meet modern citizens’ expectations without it (Cabinet Office, 2005, p. 3). According to the E-Government Readiness Ranking Report (United Nations, 2005), in 2005 the United States was the world leader followed by Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; and in 2004 the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Estonia, Malta, and Chile were also among the top 25 “e-ready” countries. The Ranking Report further emphasizes that 55 countries, out of 179, which maintained a government Web site, encouraged citizens to participate in discussing key issues of importance, and that most developing country governments around the world are promoting citizen awareness about policies, programs, approaches, and strategies on their Web sites—thus making an effort to engage multi-stakeholders in participatory decision-making. Indeed, one of the significant innovations in information technology (IT) in the digital age has been the creation and ongoing development of the Internet—Internet technology has changed rules about how information is managed, collected, and disseminated in commercial, government, and private domains. Internet technology also increases communication flexibility while reducing cost by permitting the exchange of large amounts of data instantaneously regardless of geographic distance (McNeal, Tolbert, Mossberger, & Dotterweich, 2003). In Hirsch’s (2006) words, “The Internet has finally achieved the convergence dream of the 1970s and everything that can be canned in digital form is traveling the Net” (p.3).
The United States Congress enacted The Internet Tax Freedom Act in 1998, imposing a three-year moratorium on new Internet taxation. It also established the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce to address the issues related to Internet taxation (Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, 2000).
The Advisory Commission has representatives from state and local governments and e-commerce industry. It is to conduct a study of federal, state, local and international taxation and tariff treatment of transactions using the Internet and Internet access, and other comparable sales activities. The Commission’s recommendations are to be submitted to Congress no later than April of 2000. Based on testimonies, the Commission is reviewing barriers imposed in foreign markets on U.S. property, goods or services engaged in Internet and its impact on U.S. consumers, and ways to simplify federal, state and local taxes imposed on telecommunications services.
The National Governor’s Association’s Perspective
Key Terms in this Chapter
Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act: GPO Access is a free service funded by the Federal Depository Library Program and has grown out of Public Law 103-40, known as the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Enhancement Act of 1993.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): Includes telecommunications technologies (such as telephony, cable, satellite, and radio) and digital technologies (such as computers, information networks, and software).
Wide Area Networks (WAN): A network that extends over a long distance. Each network site is a node on the network. The largest WAN in existence is the Internet.
Listserv: An automatic mailing list server developed by Eric Thomas for BITNET in 1986, and a program that automatically sends messages to multiple e-mail addresses on a mailing list.
Internet: World’s largest network, a worldwide collection of networks that link together millions of businesses, governments, educational institutions, and individuals using modems, telephone lines, and other communications devices and media. Also called the Net.
World Wide Web (WWW): Worldwide collection of electronic documents on the Internet that have built-in hyperlinks to other related documents. Also called the Web.
Information Age: The current era, characterized by the shirt from an industrial economy to an information economy and the convergence of computer and communication technology.
ARPANET: Advanced research projects agency network that the Internet has roots in, developed by the Department of Defense.