From the Editor: Serving All Citizens

It’s often said that government should act more like a business. To achieve that goal, new administrations usher in programmatic change, appointees, mandates and sometimes funding—which oftentimes revitalize and reprioritize processes that have gone stale.

Yet, unlike business, government doesn’t have the luxury of serving only customers with whom it’s easy to do business. Government must provide access to information and services in accordance with a process that treats each citizen in a similar fashion.

There’s no question that e-government initiatives make life easier for most citizens. However, for those in many rural communities, access to technology is still lacking. This means that access to some new and vital government services is also lacking.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 44 percent of American adults in rural areas have not used computers to access the Internet, compared with 38 percent of adults in urban areas. Add to that the lack of proximity to services in rural areas, and you’ve got a vast problem. “Bridging the Rural Tech Divide ” on page 28 looks at what governments are doing to improve the access to government services via the Web.

This issue segues into the where’s and why’s of municipal wireless access in “Wi-Fi Goes to Work in the City ” on page 39. Mobility and connectivity are the order of the day as cities and airports across the country offer free or low-priced Web access to citizens. The reasons for providing the services are as different as the municipalities themselves: added convenience, future revenue streams and to position themselves as cutting edge.

For technologists interested in their careers—and who isn’t—Bryan M. Gold’s CIO Insights on page 13 reports how state and local CIOs are moving into management positions. This is resulting in a win-win-win situation for the governing body, its technology department and the individuals themselves.

With federal agencies conforming to SOX-like regulations, can local and state guidelines be far behind? Compliance regulation is on the minds of state and municipal IT decision-makers. In “Crunching the Numbers ” on page 43, State Tech delves into how local and state IT leaders are paralleling accounting regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by putting auditable and repeatable processes in place.

In their columns, two current and one former CIO discuss the processes involved in tackling ambitious technology makeovers. CIOs Jim Dillon and John Emerson and former CIO Jim Shanks address topics that, if not on the minds of IT decision-makers now, will be soon: making government services more accessible to citizens, undertaking a major infrastructure upgrade, and getting financial and technology processes up to date.

Thanks for opening our pages.

Lee Copeland, Editor in Chief

E-GOVERNMENT

There’s no question that e-government initiatives make life easier for most citizens. However, most is not all.

Oct 31 2006