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Reengineering Through Information Technology

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Citation Edit

Office of the Vice-President, Reengineering Through Information Technology (Sept. 1993) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This report outlines a three-part agenda for spreading information technology's benefits to the federal government:

  • (1) Strengthen Leadership in Information Technology,
  • (2) Implement Electronic Government, and
  • (3) Establish Support Mechanisms for Electronic Government.

Strengthen Leadership in Information Technology Edit

The recently created Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF) can provide leadership in integrating information technology into systems that support government's operation. Chaired by the Secretary of Commerce, this task force is responsible for articulating and implementing the President's vision for advanced telecommunications and computing technology. It is uniquely positioned to help develop the governmental aspects of America's information infrastructure. The President should expand the task force's work to include a Government Information Technology Services (GITS) Working Group which, in turn, would collaborate with state and local governments as well as the private sector.

The GITS Working Group should work with the IITF to develop a strategic vision and an implementation plan for using government information resources across and within agencies, and develop steps to improve how government provides information and services to the public. The working group should also develop strategies to empower information technology management in federal agencies and set priorities for sharing information among agencies. In addition, GITS should be the focal point for implementing the actions of this report.

Implement Electronic Government Edit

Electronic government extends the idea first seen in electronic banking. Just as ATMs, plastic access cards, and nationwide networks have made banking more convenient, electronic government will make communicating with government easier and faster. Obviously, as in electronic banking, privacy and security issues must be addressed here as well.

We propose seven initiatives to inaugurate the electronic government. They provide dynamic opportunities to improve the efficiency and easy use of government services. Their implementation will provide substantial return on investment through increases in productivity.

1. Integrated Electronic Benefit Transfer. Electronic benefit transfer will use information technology present in the financial industry to deliver, nationwide, fast and efficient government assistance — including Food Stamps, Social Security benefits, and veterans' benefits.
2. Integrated Electronic Access to Government Information and Services. Access to government is a right of Americans. Existing technology makes possible the integrated electronic access to government information and services. The use of a single nationwide 800 telephone number would simplify access to government agencies. Electronic government kiosks that use technology similar to that in ATMs can provide "one-stop shopping" for both government information and services. Personal computers may also be used to access electronic bulletin board systems, databases, and agency directory services.
3. National Law Enforcement/Public Safety Network. A National Law Enforcement/Public Safety Wireless Network will improve coordination and communication among federal, state, and local law enforcement and public safety agencies, and will save money. It must first focus on establishing standards for sharing information and implementing appropriate privacy and security measures.
4. Intergovernmental Tax Filing, Reporting, and Payments Processing. The IRS already has on file all the tax information needed to calculate the taxes due for about 60 million taxpayers because financial institutions and employers are required to report this information. Yet IRS and state tax agencies still require taxpayers to compute what IRS already knows. If IRS computed taxes and sent a statement, and if electronic filing were used for all others, IRS and state agencies could forgo the mailing of 75 boxcars of forms to taxpayers — and certain classes of taxpayers could ultimately not need to file. For others, they will need to file only once. Enormous administrative savings would accrue to government and the burden on taxpayers would be reduced.
5. International Trade Data System. To help ensure the nation's competitiveness in global markets, the Treasury Department should create an all-inclusive database for disseminating[international trade data, for use by the government and the trade community.
6. National Environmental Data Index. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should create a National Environmental Data Index to coordinate the development and use of environmental data gathered by various government agencies. Its goal — to give government, the private sector, academia, and citizens easy access to environmental information.
7. Governmentwide Electronic Mail. In the private sector, e-mail and messaging systems are becoming as common as the desktop computer. Governmentwide electronic mail is a natural progression from paper-based government to an electronic government. E-mail allows rapid communication among employees across agency boundaries. The administration should work with Congress to resolve issues regarding what constitutes a government record created by e-mail, and how to ensure appropriate security in using e-mail.

Establish Support Mechanisms for Electronic Government Edit

The administration is working with the private sector to more quickly develop a broad, privately operated national information infrastructure (NII). The NII "will revolutionize the way we work, learn, shop, and live, and will provide Americans the information they need, when they need it, and where they need it — whether in the form of text, images, sound, or video." This capability will "enhance the productivity of work and lead to dramatic improvements in social services, education, and entertainment." Nevertheless, this bright future can only become a reality if we adopt "forward-looking policies that promote the development of new technologies and if we invest in the information infrastructure for the 21st Century."

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