September 16, 2008 By Steve Towns, Editor
Photo: Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.
Utah topped the Center for Digital Government's 2008 Digital States Survey after delivering the clearest evidence yet that electronic delivery of government services has matured.
To reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced in June that most state offices would be closed on Fridays. With more than 800 state government services online -- many boasting high user adoption rates -- Utah could close physical offices statewide without inconveniencing citizens.
Paul Taylor, chief strategy officer for the center and a member of the Digital States judging panel, said Utah's move signals a tipping point for electronic government services.
"Utah demonstrates that you can close offices on a normal office day, and people can still conduct real business with their government," said Taylor. "This is what the ATM did for the banking industry. It reduced branch hours, but cash was still available. Ten years later, we're reducing government office hours, but government's still available."
The Top 10
8. South Dakota
10. Tennessee (tie)
10. Pennsylvania (tie)
Utah's winning performance in this year's survey -- conducted biannually by the Center for Digital Government -- caps a steady rise in the state's rankings. Utah finished eighth in 2004 and fourth in 2006.
Taylor described the 2008 survey as one of the most competitive in the Digital States' decade-long history. Utah beat out two of the survey's most consistent performers -- Michigan and Virginia -- to win the top spot this year. Michigan finished second after topping the survey in 2004 and 2006. Virginia -- this year's third-place finisher -- took second in 2006 and third in 2004.
The 2008 Digital States Survey measured state governments' progress on an array of citizen self-service technologies -- including Internet portals, applications and Web 2.0 features like blogs, wikis, social networks and mash-ups. The survey also evaluated state IT programs overall, with measures of the alignment of architecture, infrastructure, policy, planning, methodologies and organizational maturity.
Focus on Service
Photo: Utah CIO Steve Fletcher
Deploying e-services has been a long-term goal for Huntsman, said Utah CIO Steve Fletcher.
"Our governor really has been focusing on trying to provide not just better IT, but also better services for our citizens," Fletcher said. "He's also very concerned about energy consumption and being green. So our performance in the 2008 survey is the culmination of a lot of things."
The widespread availability and popularity of e-government services were key in Huntsman's decision to implement a four-day workweek for most state operations. "The only way he could pull that off is if we have enough online services so that citizens still had access to government," Fletcher said.
Utah -- which claims to have more online services available than any other state -- has steadily moved common government transactions online. The Web is now the state's default delivery
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