Wednesday, October 24, 2012

E-Government: Why you shouldn't go into the DMV

Topic - E-government comes at a cost. Is there a trade-off that occurs between the security of federal systems and the cost savings from reduced paperwork?

E-government provides significant convenience to both civil servants as well as to the citizens. The employees can automate tasks and process other requests asynchronously, while citizens can submit forms and look up information from the comfort of their home. A few months ago I had to update my address with the Maryland MVA. This involved driving 30 minutes to the MVA office and waiting in their queue for three hours before meeting with the clerk. I cannot overstate how irritated this stressful day left me. Looking into the e-government offerings of the MVA, I see that they have a no-charge process for processing a change of address online. (Frequently Asked Questions, 2012) Rather than coordinating their schedule around travel, waiting, and MVA hours, a citizen can just fill out an online form and have a Change-of-Address mailed to them when a clerk gets around to it.

Convenience like the MVA online services comes at a significant price, one that all e-government offerings face. Defense must be posted 24 hours a day, every day. Offices are closed for most of every day and are protected by being closed up in secure buildings. Online systems can be accessed at any time, so they must be monitored at every time. Frequently, public sector agencies and offices “must address security concerns in the face of deep budget cuts, staff shortages and legacy information systems.” (Lifting the Security Burden, 2012) Attempting to maintain the requisite security can be extremely difficult when faced with the budget realities of recession and reduced taxes.

Frequently Asked Questions (October 4, 2012). Motor Vehicle Administration. Retrieved from:

Lifting the Security Burden. (2012). Government Technology, 25(1), 49. Retrieved from

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