Building Cross Agency Applications


One of the biggest challenges to eGovernment is the mecahnisms we use to fund government activities (state and federal) and the traditional organization that the funding leads to.  This has come to be called "stovepiping."  People have railed against it in the past, but with the recent focus on eGovernment and homeland security, we've come to see more and more how disfunctional it can be in the 21st century.

Al Sherwood writes today about one of Utah's efforts to break down some of these stovepipes:

I've been fortunate to get in on a project that is in my opinion headed in the right direction and one that I look forward to seeing come to fruition. One-stop Business Registration, as it is called, promises to do some uncommon things with an uncommonly committed group of individuals who understand the importance of working together as a team to reach success.

After many months of agency staff trying to explain "in detail" the business processes of ten different local, state and federal organizations we almost have a final description (requirements document) to hand off to developers who will actually build what we all thought up together. Projects like this need a lot of talent to succeed and if any major gaps occur, projects simply grind to a halt. Different people must dream the dream, drive the process, and do the application.

Al's article goes into considerable detail and even links to a prototype of the application. 

What the one-stop team is doing is exactly what we want to do with all our eGovernment applications.  As State employees we're justifiably proud of the organizations we work for and their mission.  Still, we have to realize that citizens and businesses don't understand, and what's more don't care, how we're organized.   All they know is that they want to start a business and there's not even a list to tell them all the things they have to do to keep their government happy. 

One-stop changes that.  With the one-stop business registration, someone starting a business in Utah will be able to fulfill all the requirements in a single convinient visit to utah.gov (including a city business license in many cases).  There are literally thousands of similar applications that could be built to make government more accessible and less of a burden.  Getting there will require more than vision, however, it will require that we change the way we think about how government works, how its funded, and what out missions are.  The Governor's plan for IT is a step in that direction, but its only a step.  These changes will be played out over the coming months and years.