Managing in the Era of Digital Governance: The Expanding Role and Efficacy of E-Government Innovations in US Social Services

Managing in the Era of Digital Governance: The Expanding Role and Efficacy of E-Government Innovations in US Social Services

Craig L. Johnson (Indiana University, USA), Sharon N. Kioko (Syracuse University, USA) and Maureen A. Pirog (Indiana University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1740-7.ch064
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E-government, or digital government, is broadly described as the creation and delivery of information and services inside governments and between governments and the public using electronic information and communication technologies (ICTs). Governments can incorporate ICTs to change administrative processes in ways that are client-oriented and needs based. These changes in administrative processes are part of digital-era governance (DEG) strategies. This chapter examines the administrative and managerial challenges of new electronic modes of transacting social services in the US, highlighting the challenges and outcomes of implementing electronic benefit transfer (EBT) technologies in the child support program.
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We classify government to citizen interactions as: (1) information provided on programs and services to citizens; (2) the ability of citizens to apply for government services or programs, and (3) the ability of governments to deliver program benefits to citizens electronically, typically as cash transfers deposited directly in bank accounts or onto government issued debit cards, some of which have restrictions on their use.

Information provided to citizens on government programs and services through static websites is currently the most common and basic form of E-government (West, 2005). As such, no transactions between governments and citizens occur as the websites simply provide information to citizens (Fountain, 2004). U.S. governments at all levels typically offer this basic level of E-government, as do the governments of most industrialized nations throughout the world.

As the ability to transact with private businesses over the Internet grew in popularity, the demand for E-government services began to rise. The second phase of E-government development allows citizens to conduct transactions with the government by means of portals. Portals are “web based front-end applications that allow state governments to access and manage all of their data and information and deliver it to users” (Center for Technology in Government, 2003). The portal for the U.S. government, FirstGov, was launched in 2000 (Chadwick, 2003). The goal of government web portals is to provide “one-stop shopping” which allows a citizen to enter the portal and easily access any government service instead of having to go to different agency websites. This is the current phase of E-government development of most federal and state governments, and it makes DEG possible.2

Programmatically, within the US the early movers in this area of E-Government have been the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state Bureaus of Motor Vehicles. Citizens can now pay taxes online and receive tax refunds electronically. In most states, it is possible to pay for vehicle registrations and motor vehicle licenses online (Borins, 2002). These services are most regularly provided because they tend to be the most requested by citizens. By far, the biggest concern to citizens is the assurance that any transactions completed online are secure (Cook, 2000).

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