On Monday, July 8, President Obama outlined the “Management Agenda for Government Innovation” to make government smarter, more innovative and more responsive.
But what does a country with a more innovative and more responsive government look like? I believe federal government agencies can turn to their peers within state government for a view of how e-government is alive and well today.
For example, in his address, President Obama mentioned, “…websites [that] help fill in some of your information so you don’t have to enter it every time you log in.”
This is exactly the type of service that state government agencies have had in place for years. For example, several states have a form of a “Business OneStop,” which allows entrepreneurs to complete forms once, and find all of the necessary forms and filings required to start, grow or close a business. While it may be called other things, such as a central business registration and licensing system, there are various examples of how this centralized business service is breaking down silos within state government and removing duplication all in an effort to make government smarter.
As the title of his management agenda states, the President’s overall focus is on making government more innovative. Oftentimes it is new innovation that also makes our lives safer. Again, look no further than to state government to find examples of e-government innovation that also delivers a safety benefit to our communities.
From New Jersey to Montana, many states have an online service in place referred to as temporary vehicle tag registration. In these states, dealerships no longer have to maintain an inventory of pre-printed temporary vehicle tags to place on the vehicles they sell. Instead, when a vehicle is purchased, the information is entered into a database that generates a custom tag for that particular vehicle and owner. Plus, the information is immediately recorded with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This provides added safety to law enforcement officers when they pull over a car with temporary tags. Now an officer can access the database to uncover information about the vehicle that has been stopped, helping the officer better understand the situation.
The President also shared his vision of a more responsive government – one in which you could track your transactions with government similar to how you can monitor your online retail purchase from payment all the way to delivery at your doorstep.
The states also have this one down. In Utah, for instance, the Bill Watch app allows individuals to track bills by topic, bill number and a legislator’s name. Once a bill is selected for tracking, the user receives instant notifications on their mobile device as the bill changes status and moves through the legislature. And residents of Kentucky can track how their tax dollars are spent through the new Citizen Tax Calculator. An individual can enter the amount of state taxes they paid and see specifically how it was spent by the state as it delves into more than 100 subcategories of expenditures.
As state government has already proven, it is possible for government to be smarter, more innovative and more responsive. State government should be proud of its efforts -- efforts that can be made at the federal level too. There are plenty of recent examples that can be leveraged to deliver results quickly.