Wednesday, December 07, 2016

One Stop Shopping for Government Services

FCW has Steve Kelman's piece on a one-stop shop in China:
Some 20 different agencies are represented in the center. Lots of the work handled involves services for businesses, such as registration and approvals for establishing a new business, and various approvals related to construction. The center also provides a number of citizen services, such as applications for passports and work permits, and various transactions related to health insurance. Many, though not all, of the forms can be completed online. The in-person services are designed for people -- often the older and less-educated -- with questions or who need in-person assistance actually filling out a form.
Back in the 90's I had this sort of thing in the back of my mind.  InfoShare had that dream, and the Osage County office in Kansas was a step along the way.  I was ambivalent about the projects: moving to PC's and the Internet in county offices could only be justified by cost savings--good, which inevitably meant personnel cuts, but that meant a further decline in rural area jobs--not good.  One faint possibility would be a true consolidation of USDA services, where things like Skype (CU-SeeMe back then) could enable one employee to tap the expertise of others located in distant offices but then adding other services.  Problem was, government doesn't have that heavy of an impact on daily lives, particularly in rural areas.  Suppose the service center could handle social security--how many visits do the 2 or 3,000 residents of a rural county make to a distant social security office in a year?  And given the difficulty in getting USDA agencies working together, any further expansion at that time was a pipe dream.

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