NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

E-government Is On Its Way

May 17, 2000

Governments may be the least innovative institutions in our society. But they are slowly moving toward allowing citizens to do business with them by utilizing the Internet.

  • Rather than having to visit or send letters to city hall or the state capitol, people will be able to log on-line to pay their taxes, renew their driver's licenses, pay traffic and parking citations and obtain copies of deeds and other public records -- while builders and architects will be able to secure such things as land-fill and building permits.
  • Forrester Research estimates that local governments collect $450 billion annually in fines alone -- usually paid by mail or in person.
  • Two start-up companies -- and -- are competing with traditional public contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp. for the attention of bureaucrats who are in positions to grant contracts for e-government services.
  • Insiders report that bureaucrats are often jealous of their turf and are not disposed to make binding commitments with people they don't know well.

So the start-up companies have stocked their boards with well-known government officials, hoping to gain access to government decision-makers and build up their trust.

Observers of the fledgling e-government service industry fear that state and local officials may wind up designing and operating their own in-house sites -- such as, for example, Stamford, Conn., has done.

Source: Glenn R. Simpson, "Putting Government on the Web," Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2000.


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