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Putting citizens on-line, not in line

; New York (2001): 64-73.

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Electronic government can provide faster, more convenient, and more accurate services that will improve the lives of the people.

Although governments hardly stand at the forefront of Internet innovation, their use of the Net to deliver services has experienced something like a quiet explosion over the past five years. During that time, more than 500 electronic-government initiatives have been launched around the world-up from 3 in 1996.' In many cases, the early results have been very promising. A few years ago, for example, obtaining an import or export license in Singapore required applicants to fill out 21 different forms and then wait 15 to 20 days for 23 government agencies to process the request. But since the government launched TradeNet, applicants have had to submit only one on-line form, and they receive a license as soon as 15 seconds later. To gain a better understanding of e-government's potential, we examined major initiatives around the world and undertook a significant amount of research. We found that the real value of e-government derives less from simply placing public services on-line than from the ability to force an agency to rethink, reorganize, and streamline their delivery before doing

so, much as the redesign of core processes in the 1980s transformed many businesses. And it isn't just the Internet-savvy industrialized nations that can benefit; e-government programs can introduce world-class technology players to developing economies.

Better, cheaper government

When citizens and businesses get on-line instead of waiting in line, they can obtain faster, more convenient access to government services, and with fewer errors. Singapore's eCitizen portal, for example, allows people to access all government services from a single World Wide Web site. Moving? Just type in your address once, and it is automatically sent to all government agencies, such as the post office and the...