E-Government

E-government refers to the use of technology to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accessibility of municipal government. It may include various computer-based technologies, large-scale use of telephones and fax machines, surveillance systems, as well as new tracking systems such as RFID tags, and even the use of television and radios to disseminate government-related information. E-Government operations are increasingly using web-based communications and Internet applications to enable two-way transactions to improve government services.

A better definition of e-government is the use of technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of municipal government.

One of the most widely used formes of E-Government is the use of E-Permitting. This process allows applicants to fill out, submit and pay for permit applications, and then receive the permit, completely on-line.

The benefits of E-Permitting include:

  • a reduction in walk-in customers and phone calls which may allow for reduced office hours or greater productivity
  • ease of use and convenience with 24/7 access to the permitting process
  • shortening of the permit issuing cycle
  • integration with other data and records management systems within a city or town hall

Statutory Requirements

There are no statutes specific to E-government solutions, though the municipal service or function using the electronic platform must adhere to applicable statutes and regulations as if the service or function was provided without using electronic methods.

Types of Agreements

Municipal leaders interested in these projects may use the Inter-Municipal Agreement Law, M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 4A.

Several e-government vendors are offering, or will offer e-government solutions as a SAS (software as a service). In these cases, the vendor hosts all equipment and the software and charges a monthly fee to the subscribing community.

Examples of e-Gov implementations

  • Berkshire County Purchasing Group – An intermunicipal agreement between 38 cities and towns governs this consortium that purchases highway products and services.  Each participant pays an annual fee to cover program costs and appoints a member to a governing board.  The group hired a part-time staff person and shares office space with another regional consortium.   For more information, see http://www.berkshireplanning.org/regional/GroupPurchasingProgram

Resources

Municipal Services Research Center of Washington, http://www.mrsc.org/research/libraryresults.aspx?cat=1171#perm

Capital Region Council of Governments Professional Services Agreement with Viewpoint Engineering for a Regional Permitting System

Link to documents:
Massachusetts Community Innovation Challenge Grant Program, CIC Grant information