Not so long ago, if you mentioned the word "intergovernmental," eyes glazed over, attention spans shortened, and the typical refrain was often, "What's in it for me?"

Today, however, there's a renewed interest in delivering services across governmental boundaries.

There are numerous reasons for this attitude change. Ballooning deficits have made it paramount that government agencies reduce costs by sharing resources. Those same cost concerns are forcing CIOs to ensure e-government strategies get the most bang for the buck, which means building portals -- and applications -- that offer one-stop services catering to citizen and business needs.

Better technologies, such as Web services, have reduced the complexity in building an intergovernmental application. National security also raised our collective consciousness about creating intergovernmental partnerships that ensure communications and information sharing occur seamlessly between the broad numbers of law enforcement agencies at every level of government.

Often left unsaid, however, is that government's customers, citizens and businesses, are demanding a more logical, less cumbersome way of interacting with federal, state and local governments. There are no hard numbers on what the lack of intergovernmental solutions costs the nation, but if you take a look at just one project, you can see why light bulbs are turning on in people's heads.

For years, registering a business has been a state and federal activity. The cumbersome process has been particularly onerous on small businesses, which can least afford to spend the time and resources needed to fill out paperwork required by the Internal Revenue Service and state-related agencies.

Now the Small Business Administration (SBA) has created an online solution using Web services, which allows a company to register its business at the state level and receive its federal employer identification number at the same time. So far two states, Georgia and Illinois, are participating in this unique partnership. SBA estimates that once the service is fully adopted, more than 4 million businesses will use the application, saving $200 million annually.

This is just one intergovernmental application brimming with good service and cost savings. Multiply that times the many other government processes that could go intergovernmental, and you begin to see just how revolutionary this trend could be.

This issue of Government Technology's Public CIO takes a close, hard look at the role intergovernmental policies, technologies and solutions play in the public sector. We don't have all the answers to how this concept works and what it can do for you, but we have some good and interesting stories to tell.

Tod Newcombe  |  Senior Editor

With more than 20 years of experience covering state and local government, Tod previously was the editor of Public CIO, e.Republic’s award-winning publication for information technology executives in the public sector. He is now a senior editor for Government Technology and a columnist at Governing magazine.