• and given that 16 percent of the gross domestic product is allocated to U.S. health care, this is a huge target. A key problem for reform is reaching the vast majority of patient-doctor transactions that occur in practices with fewer than six doctors. Procedures and staff in these practices will need to change.

  • Homeland security: Different jurisdictions and institutions are seeking to integrate information for better analysis and security. This is a huge cross-boundary problem that raises major concerns about privacy, equity and security.

  • Environmental protection: Several jurisdictions and sectors of the economy are developing GIS, GPS and other applications to capture and share information about environmental issues. In the new data-sharing community, how will we resolve issues about standards and accountability? How will we fund what needs to be done?

  • Lifelong education: Multiple institutions in the increasingly knowledge-based global economy see educational reform as essential. Education is becoming a critical lifetime concern for individuals, institutions and entire societies.

  • Public engagement: As we venture deeper into a digital world, the problem with democracy is not just voting, but also figuring out how diverse interests and capabilities can engage in the "conversation" that seeks to define public interest. Technology options abound, but all raise issues of the power balance among executives, legislators and the public.

  • Economic development: With market-based units under increased competitive pressure and free to move about the world, technology is key in determining where companies and jobs locate; regions need to cooperate to strengthen their comparative advantage in a global context.

    These examples all require coordination across agencies, jurisdictions and sectors of the economy. The unit of change is larger than the individual, larger than the work group, and larger than a single program or agency. We must change the behavior of communities of interacting individuals and agencies, often engaging thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.

    Size alone makes this difficult. More than that, however, it's clear the changes required won't be a consensus cakewalk. Jobs will change. Careers will change. Status and relationships will change. Some people will see themselves as worse off, perhaps dangerously worse off, even completely without a role in the new order. In such situations, people are rightfully anxious. As e-government moves to the future, reform becomes a game of musical chairs. When the music stops, people must find new chairs, and some won't be able to do so.

    E-government to date is thus quite different from e-government for the future. Taking advantage of cross-boundary transformation will require wise leadership in the face of serious anxiety and opposition. Conflict is coming with the new territory. To resolve those conflicts and succeed, we need good governance. When the Articles of Confederation couldn't hack it, we created the Federalist Papers and the Constitution. What shall we create for e-government?

    Governance: Allocating Authority

    Cross-boundary reforms often start informally, on a largely voluntary basis. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started more than a decade ago to work with states on how they managed environmental data. Negotiations defined what data was needed, who would gather it, and who would be allowed to edit and release it to the public. Compromises were made, and new work procedures made it easier to measure environmental activities and conditions over space and time. As work reforms went forward, Internet standards such as TCP/IP, HTML and XML evolved to make communications and collaboration easier. Over the years, the scope, scale and efficiencies of environmental data management grew dramatically.

    For some communities and problems, however, voluntary or informal collaboration is not good enough. Keeping the community together and working effectively may require faster decisions. It may require

  • Jerry Mechling  |  Contributing Writer