California dreamed

Meanwhile, whilst the US government is suffering financial turmoil, the State of California appears even worse. However, despite the ssues at a national and State level some the the local authorities are making strides in developing what a few years ago was described as egovernment according to a report from a group of researchers from the New America Foundation. The report entitled ‘Hear Us Now? A California Survey of Digital Technology’s Role in Civic Engagement and Local Government’ is by April Manatt with Stephen G. Blake, Joe Mathews & Troy K. Schneider. (24 pages, 876 Kb), although annoyingly in two columns per page which makes screenreading harder…

The size of the cities (sic) mentioned varies from 185 up to the beefier ones like San Diego and the trechnologies discussed include web portals, videoconferencing and social media, but they are all examples of US local service bodies including fire and police providing different ways for the public to approach them. There’s a survey of some 41 examples including the URL to view the facility. There’s also the suggestion for a clearinghouse to promulgate these initiatives and encourage wider use, and potentially halting duplication.

The paper concludes that “California’s fiscal and governance problems — and its technological prowess — offer the state a special opportunity to lead. Government must be redesigned to revive civic engagement and reckon with the challenges of diminished resources. But such a redesign requires a new infrastructure to foster cooperation and the sharing of experience among governments, and to support research into best practices.” Given the universality of financial problems in government, this message has wider applicability.

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