eGovernment Through the Deseret News


Dave Fletcher reports that the Deseret News has put inspection results from the Regulatory Services Division of the Utah Dept. of Agriculture online. I saw the article in the paper, so I missed the online application. The application is pretty good. Its unfortunate that its not done by Agriculture however since it will quickly become out of date.

This online data points out one of the real powers of eGovernment: true transparency. I've given a few examples of this before (nursing homes and sex offenders). This data was all available before but not easily so. Practitioners of eGovernment have a duty to not only make this kind of data public, but to design the applications in ways that the data is truly useful. This includes both good user interface design and good data design.

There are other instances where private concerns have enabled eGovernment applications. I think this works as long as (a) the agency that has the information is making it easily available and (b) the private concern is committed to keeping the application up to date. This likely isn't the case on either account here. The Dept. of Agriculture has few IT resources and they're stretched thin providing basic services. Consequently they can't spend much time supporting the Agency's mission. This isn't unusual, most of the IT assets in State agencies are deployed in that manner.

Of course, many will be upset with me and say "making sure agency personnel have network access and functioning desktops is supporting the agency mission." I beg to differ. Anyone can do that including an outside contractor. But agency IT personnel are in a unique position to understand the agency's business well enough to properly deploy eGovernment services. The Governor's goal of ubiquitous eGovernment will never be realized until agency IT personnel see that as their primary mission. Sadly, they're too busy right now with trivia to accomplish that which would truly change government.