Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Personalized Government Website?

Via Govloop, here's an article on Prime Minister Brown's plan to provide a personalised web page for every UK citizen to access all public services online in a single location.

Two points on this:
  • Does it make sense? There's definite advantages--you presumably can set up some high-quality identity checking for such a site, the user has only one ID and password process to go through, you probably get a higher usage rate because it's more convenient for the user.  On the other hand, as with any centralized process the consequences of hacking, etc. are greater.
  • What does it tell us about the differences in government and society? It's pretty clear, I think, that Brown's not just thinking of one access point to Her Majesty's websites, but to all levels of government including doctors appointments.  Presumably Brown knows what's feasible, but compare that with the U.S.  Fairfax County and Virginia both are recognized as being progressive in their implementation of IT, but there's no way you could have one access point for both county and state.  As a matter of fact, Fairfax county doesn't have a common access point for the public library and the property tax.  Now consider adding in things like passports from State, Pell grants from Ed, veteran's benefits from the VA, Social security, bonds from Treasury, employee benefits from OPM, etc. These won't have a consolidated access point for decades.  As I've said before, in the US our government is decentralized and weak, and we like it that way.

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