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FCW : December 2012
Faster, cheaper, better government In "The Politics of Abundance: How Technology Can Fix the Budget, Revive the American Dream and Establish Obama s Legacy," former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt and National Broadband Plan Director Blair Levin argue that an essential ingredient for improving the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is at the heart of the " scal cliff" debate, is economic growth, and technology can provide the necessary catalyst. Although they make a number of rec- ommendations, one of the broad themes is that the federal government should move rapidly to transition all government and public services, such as education and health care, to the digital, broadband plat- form. This excerpt details steps to acceler- ate a digital transition and improve broadband capability for communities throughout the United States. Make government a digital service provider for everyone The most recently created fed- eral agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was designed with up-to-date digital systems. The bureau resolves over 60 percent of the complaints it receives with minimal intervention of government employ- ees, and does [it] faster, better and cheaper than paper-bound agencies hampered by legacy systems. Learning from this experience and the experi- ence of private enterprises that have improved performance through digital technology, the government should digitize the knowledge platform [of] all its agencies and departments. Not only will government-as-a-service be better, it will be cheaper. A high-tech CEO council identi ed about $1 trillion in savings achievable by 2020 through better use of technology. To obtain these savings, Congress should create a data management authori- ty that resembles the military base closing commission. Congress should agree that the authority s recommendations will have the force of law unless Congress passes, and President Obama signs, a law revers- ing them. Run by executives who have led such transformations in the private sector, the authority should make recommenda- tions every six months, for a decade. The commission should be able to reinvest at least some of the money it saves to expedite its transformation of government. It also should allocate some of the savings to training government employees who will provide the new services, as well as a program focused on training new computer engineers. Some savings also should be dedicated to creat- ing digital literacy programs so that users of government services can learn how to access those services. In addition, as the government moves from analog to digital, it has to assure that all have access to the new platform. The framework for the legislation, therefore, should dedicate some part of the savings to bringing all Americans online. The administration should also cam- paign against paper. Paper records are the enemy of improving performance. Paper leads to huge costs in translating to digital forms, mistakes in translating, dif culties in analyzing and delays in responding to the data. This is why the Recovery Act wisely directed the fed- eral government to invest almost $20 billion to encourage health care providers to move to electronic health records. The same logic should be applied to all government activity. Everyone hates lling out forms. Technology can liberate people from the tyranny of forms. With a single click, Americans can provide the informa- tion government needs while retain- ing security and privacy. Government agencies can securely share information without requiring duplicate forms from their users. Data exchange platforms now allow people and businesses to store informa- tion securely. Using these, a person or a business could give a government agency access to its data. When the A new e-book from former FCC of cials explores the ways technology could improve government services --- and save money BY REED HUNDT AND BLAIR LEVIN Bookshelf 30 December 2012 FCW.COM
November 30, 2012