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E-government (electronic government) is

the transformation of public sector internal and external relationships through Internet-enabled operations and ICT to optimise government service delivery, constituency participation and internal government processes.[1]


E-government (electronic government) is

the electronic provision of information to geographically diverse but technologically homogenous ICTs (such as personal computers or information kiosks).[2]

United Nations[]

E-government (electronic government) is

utilizing the internet and the world-wide-web for delivering government information and services to citizens.[3]

United States[]

E-government (electronic government) is

the use by the government of web-based Internet applications or other information technology to enhance the access to and delivery of government information and services to the public, other agencies, and other Government entities; or to bring about improvements in Government operations that may include effectiveness, efficiency, service quality, or transformation.[4]
[t]he use of information technologies such as the Internet by national, state, and local governments to deliver information and provide services, instead of delivering information or providing services in a government office.[5]



seeks to use information and communication technologies to improve the quality and accessibility of public services. It can reduce costs for businesses and administrations alike, and facilitate transactions between administrations and citizens. It also helps to make the public sector more open and transparent and governments more accountable and understandable to citizens.[6]

E-government — which has diverse constituencies that include citizens and other individuals; businesses; nonprofit organizations; and the many federal, state, and local agencies — is envisioned as providing some of the following key benefits:

There are three main phases of e-government strategy and activity. They encapsulate the main focus of e-government on the one hand, and the major challenges facing public sector leaders and all stakeholders in pursuing e-government on the other hand. The three (interrelated and often overlapping) phases are:

European Union[]

eGovernment is not "old government" plus the Internet. eGovernment is the use of new technologies to transform Europe's public administrations and to improve radically the way they work with their customers, be they citizens, enterprises, or other administrations.[7]

eGovernment is a key vehicle for the implementation and achievement of higher policy objectives. It is unlikely that European policy objectives on, for example, the single market freedoms, industrial policy, sustainable development and security across Europe, can be achieved unless interoperable eGovernment services are swiftly implemented.

eGovernment is built on two main but inter-related developments. The first is the business models adopted in the recent past by the enterprise sector. These are largely concerned with obtaining competitive advantage by activities such as continuous process improvement, a focus on core competencies and the re-organization of their internal processes. The second is the use of a wide range of information and communication technologies (ICTs), of which the Internet is the most visible, in supporting organizational change, more productive ways of working and the improved provision of information and interactive services to customers.

"This combination of the use of advanced ICTs, especially the Internet, in the support of new ways of working in public administration, together with the enhanced provision of information and interactive services accessible over different channels, is the foundation of eGovernment. The challenge here is to 're-write the rules' for how public administration works internally, interacts with its customers, and uses ICTs, not only to increase productivity by making business transactions easier to carry out, but also to address issues of social inclusion and the digital divide. For this to happen, not only should technology ensure the communication and sharing of information, but also administrative processes should be reorganized and be able to co-operate.[8]

United States[]

As initially used in American public recourse, the term "e-government" (an abbreviation for "electronic government") was little more than a general recognition of a confluence of information technology (IT) developments and the application and use of these technologies by government entities. Subsequently, it has often been used as a symbol, an ambiguous reference to both current applications of IT to government operations and a goal of realizing more efficient and economical performance of government functions.

The conditions contributing to the e-government phenomenon were recognized at least three decades ago. Observations offered by the authors of a report of the Commission on the Year 2000 of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences are informative in this regard. Concerning the executive branch, the report proferred:

By the year 2000, despite the growth in the size and complexity of federal programs, the technological improvement of the computer, closed-circuit TV, facsimile transmission, and so on, will make it possible for the federal bureaucracy to carry out its functions must more efficiently and effectively than it can today, with no increase in total manpower.[9]

Such observations, however, should not obscure recognition that new information technologies have affected government operations in the past, as the following comment, penned in 1910, attests:

Public officials, even in the United States, have been slow to change from the old-fashioned and more dignified use of written documents and uniformed messengers; but in the last ten years there has been a sweeping revolution in this respect. Government by telephone! This is a new idea that has already arrived in the most efficient departments of the Federal service. And as for the present Congress, that body has gone so far as to plan for a special system of its own, in both Houses, so that all official announcements may be heard by wire.[10]

The author, a respected Canadian editor and writer, also presciently noted that, "[n]ext to public officials, bankers were perhaps the last to accept the facilities of the telephone," because "[t]hey were slow to abandon the fallacy that no business can be done without a written record."[11] Subscription to such a "fallacy" constitutes a basis for the concerns of some regarding the paperless transactions of e-government.

E-government is a dynamic concept, meaning different things to different people. However, it has significant relevance to four important areas of governance: (1) delivery of services (government-to-citizen, or G2C); (2) providing information (also G2C); (3) facilitating the procurement of goods and services (government-to-business, or G2B, and business-to-government, or B2G); and (4) facilitating efficient exchanges within and between agencies (government-to-government, or G2G). For policymakers concerned about e-government, a central area of concern is developing a comprehensive but flexible strategy to coordinate the disparate e-government initiatives across the federal government.

The movement to put government online raises as many issues as it provides new opportunities. Some of these issues include, but are not limited to: security, privacy, management of governmental technology resources, accessibility of government services (including “digital divide” concerns as a result of a lack of skills or access to computers), and preservation of public information (maintaining comparable freedom of information procedures for digital documents as exist for paper documents). Although these issues are neither new nor unique to e-government, they do present the challenge of performing governance functions online without sacrificing the accountability of, or public access to, government that citizens have grown to expect. Some industry groups have also raised concerns about the U.S. government becoming a publicly funded market competitor through the provision of fee-for-services such as the U.S. Postal Service’s now-discontinued eBillPay service, which allowed consumers to schedule and make payments to creditors online.[1]

Early U.S. government initiatives[]

E-government initiatives vary significantly in their breadth and depth from state to state and agency to agency. Perhaps one of the most well-known federal examples is the FirstGov website,[2] which first went online on September 22, 2000. FirstGov is a web portal designed to serve as a single locus point for finding federal government information on the Internet. The FirstGov site also provides access to a variety of state and local government resources. Another example is the initiative, which is designed to provide a single portal for all available federal grants, enabling users to search, download applications, and apply for grants online.

At the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the Free File initiative, which has partnered with industry to provide free online tax preparation and electronic filing services for eligible taxpayers.

E-Government Task Force[]

Pursuant to the July 18, 2001, OMB Memorandum M-01-28, an E-Government Task Force was established to create a strategy for achieving the Bush Administration’s e-government goals.[3] In doing so, the Task Force identified 23 interagency initiatives designed to better integrate agency operations and information technology investments. These initiatives, sometimes referred to as the Quicksilver projects, are grouped into four categories; government-to-citizen, government-to-government, government-to-business, and internal effectiveness and efficiency.

Examples of these initiatives include an e-authentication project led by the General Services Administration (GSA) to increase the use of digital signatures, the eligibility assistance online project (also referred to as led by the Department of Labor to create a common access point for information regarding government benefits available to citizens, and the Small Business Administration’s One-Stop Business Compliance project, being designed to help businesses navigate legal and regulatory requirements.

A 24th initiative, a government wide payroll process project, was subsequently added by the President’s Management Council. In 2002 the e-Clearance initiative, originally included as part of the Enterprise Human Resources Integration project, was established as a separate project, for a total of 25 initiatives. Since that time, the Bush Administration has reclassified the e-Authentication initiative as “a separate initiative that provides secure and robust authentication services to the 24 [i]nitiatives,” bringing the official tally again to 24 initiatives.[4]

As the initial round of e-government projects continue to develop and become fully operational, OMB has focused attention on initiatives that consolidate information technology systems in nine functional areas, or Lines of Business (LoB). These include financial management, human resource management, grants management, case management, federal health architecture, information security, budget formulation and evaluation, geospatial systems, and information technology infrastructure. These initiatives were chosen, in part, because they represent core business functions common to many departments and agencies, and/or have the potential to reap significant efficiency and efficacy gains. These LoB initiatives are anticipated to create $5 billion in savings over 10 years.

E-Government Act of 2002[]

On December 17, 2002, President Bush signed the E-Government Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-347) into law. The law contains a variety of provisions related to federal government information technology management, information security, and the provision of services and information electronically. One of the most recognized provisions involves the creation of an Office of Electronic Government within OMB.

The Office is headed by an Administrator, who is responsible for carrying out a variety of information resources management (IRM) functions, as well as administering the interagency E-Government Fund provided for by the law.

As defined in the Act, "e-government" refers to the use of information technology, including web-based Internet applications, to deliver government information and services to the public, federal agencies, and other governmental entities.[12]

Legal and structural issues[]

A complication special to the government setting is that integration is fraught with legal and structural challenges. Legal constraints can significantly inhibit rapid, wholesale structural changes in government structures (at both inter- and intra-agency levels). For example, legal and regulatory barriers to sharing information have been established to protect citizen privacy. At the same time, the stove-piped appropriations process — in which agencies compete for resources and appropriations that are determined by separate congressional committees — makes cross-agency collaboration to build more integrated systems very difficult. Explicit authorization and resources to undertake cross-agency efforts is an important element of a solution. Also, as noted above, governments differ from businesses in their inherently comprehensive scope. Finally, the desired span of aggregation can include state and local governments as well as federal agencies.


  1. Australia's Strategic Framework for the Information Economy 2004–2006, at 30.
  2. M-Government: Mobile Technologies for Responsive Governments and Connected Societies, at 19.
  3. Benchmarking E-government: A Global Perspective, at 1.
  4. E-Government Act of 2002 §3601(3).
  5. Digital Trade in the U.S. and Global Economies, Part 1, at xii.
  6. i2010 eGovernment Action Plan.
  7. Linking-up Europe, at 4.
  8. Id.
  9. William M. Capron, "The Executive Branch in the Year 2000," in The Future of the U.S. Government: Toward the Year 2000, at 307 (Harvey S. Perloff ed. 1971).
  10. Herbert N. Casson, The History of the Telephone 201-02 (1910).
  11. Id. at 203.
  12. 116 Stat. 2809, 2902.


See also[]