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Appendix A. Workshop summary

Designing the Digital Government of the 21st Century: A Multidisciplinary Workshop

The National Science Foundation's program on Digital Government supports experimentation and research to improve the information-based services that government provides to citizens or uses internally to carry out its mission. On October 5-6, 1998, 67 researchers and government practitioners convened in a workshop funded by this NSF program to discuss ways that government practitioners and academic researchers can collaborate to produce innovative and effective information-based government services. Held in Arlington, VA, and led by the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany/SUNY, the workshop was designed to identify and develop research themes and projects that can further these goals.

This workshop was one in a series funded by NSF to promote interaction between researchers and government practitioners. The October 1998 workshop focused particularly on the environment in which government information services are developed. It recognized that government programs and service delivery mechanisms are developed in a complex multi-layered Federal-state-local system in which many organizations play significant and different roles. It also emphasized that development efforts must deal with interactions among the political, organizational, technological, cultural, and human factors that shape the implementation environment.

The workshop had several goals:

  • Propose criteria for investing in research activities that will have the greatest positive impact on government programs, services, and customers.
  • Identify issues, opportunities, and themes for cross-disciplinary research to foster the creation, adoption, and diffusion of innovative and effective government IT applications.
  • Recommend ways to build mutually beneficial links between researchers and the information services and government management communities.
  • Develop ideas for specific research projects that would contribute to more effective use of advanced technologies in government.
  • Recommend criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the research program.

To help focus attention on research that would have practical implications, the workshop participants were asked to take a "program-centric" view of the information content and processing needs of government operation. By paying special attention to the needs of government program managers, workshop presentations and discussions were designed to lead to research ideas that have the potential to be of pragmatic use in government.