(Washington, DC) — Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Ranking Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) Thursday launched an online, interactive web project to improve the access of the American people to their government.
A web site designed to involve the public in an electronic discussion of ideas is the current centerpiece of this e-government project. The web site, which may be accessed through the Governmental Affairs Committee site as well as the personal sites of Senators Thompson and Lieberman, invites comment on ways to advance the cause of digital government, to promote innovative uses of information technology and to expand citizen participation in government.
“I?m looking forward to receiving the results of the Governmental Affairs Committee?s experiment with an interactive web site,” said Senator Thompson. “This site will allow people to consider and comment on issues before this Committee. The ideas include how the government should harness technology to improve government operations and hopefully, to rebuild the public?s trust in government.”
“E_government means e_quality,” Lieberman said. “In the wired world, universal access to information and services levels the playing field. I hope our web site and any future legislation will encourage more citizens to take an interest in their government _ indeed, to collaborate with us _ from the convenience of their homes, offices and libraries. This is an experiment to involve you _ the digital citizen _ as a virtual partner in the legislative planning process.”
Electronic government applies the lessons of the private sector to the mission of government, to increase productivity and reduce costs using Internet-based technology. E-government is an opportunity to enhance citizen access to government information and services and, in many cases, to strengthen and extend those services. E-government further provides new ways to increase citizen participation in the democratic process. As government makes increased use of and becomes more dependent on technology, it is critical that it be managed thoughtfully. The Committee hopes its innovative web site will contribute to this process.
Below is Senator Lieberman’s statement
“The e-Government Project: an Invitation to Help Us Shape the Future”
Statement of Senator Joseph Lieberman
May 18, 2000
Thank you, Senator Thompson. Let me begin by saying what a pleasure it is to be able to launch this “e-Government Project” with you. E-Government, as we define it, is the use of Internet-based technology to improve government services, reduce operational costs, enhance citizen participation, and rethink government processes.
Someone once said that the toughest thing about history is recognizing when you are making it. I won?t go so far as to say that we are making history today?but I can say, with confidence, that we are certainly trying something new. We are extending an unprecedented invitation to any interested citizen to participate openly and interactively in the process of writing legislation.
The web site that I will demonstrate for you shortly invites every member of the public to what is, in essence, an extended Q&A session. On this web site, we have laid out more than 40 topics related to e-Government?ideas that we are not endorsing today, but that we believe are worthy of consideration?and we are asking for your opinion. Do you agree that e-Government offers the opportunity to reduce costs to taxpayers, to improve federal productivity, to enhance government services, to encourage citizen participation? Are you satisfied with our progress to date? What measures should Congress take to advance the cause of e-Government?
The questions on this web site get more specific. Do we need more centralized e-Government leadership?a “Federal Chief Information Officer”?and if so, what authority should that position carry? How can we package electronic government information to make it more useable on the Internet? How can we make government officials more accessible? How can we use partnerships with the private sector to learn from their expertise? How do we encourage agencies to use Internet-based technology to orient their services toward the customer? How can we do better in funding interagency projects?
“The future,” as Yogi Berra once observed, “is inevitable.” Information technology is changing the global community at an explosive pace. The “digital citizen” is quickly becoming a vocal stakeholder in many enterprises ? a citizen who can wear many hats at once, as a retail customer, a self-guided researcher, an online taxpayer, and an electronic lobbyist. The question that we are faced with is not whether an electronic society is emerging?and not whether e-Government will become a reality, but how it will occur?what form will it take? How effective will it be? We have the opportunity, at this juncture, to exert our mutual influence, as policy-makers and as citizens, to ensure that Electronic Government evolves responsibly and thoughtfully.
This e-Government Project is an opportunity for the people to contribute their ideas and opinions before we begin drafting e-Government legislation. Whether you are a business owner, a federal worker, a retiree, a researcher, a soccer mom, or a member of the media, we are asking for your thoughtful participation in this project. We are asking you, in fact, to help shape the future course of government.
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Note: To encourage comments by those without Internet access, printed copies of the web proposals are available