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Dealing In Data

Governing Magazine has a special report on "E-Governing" in their September, 2004 issue, Dealing in Data.

This is certainly true,

"Governments have been trying to break down the silos of data that have been built up agency by agency, government by government."


But I wonder about this evaluation, which seems to be the foundation for most of the article:

"There is one basic prerequisite that has to be met before any data merging can take place. Government agencies have to take the information that lives on paper and convert it into digitized form. "
Chris Steins | @urbaninsight | August 29, 2004, 4pm PDT
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Governing Magazine has a special report on "E-Governing" in their September, 2004 issue, Dealing in Data.

This is certainly true,

"Governments have been trying to break down the silos of data that have been built up agency by agency, government by government."


But I wonder about this evaluation, which seems to be the foundation for most of the article:

"There is one basic prerequisite that has to be met before any data merging can take place. Government agencies have to take the information that lives on paper and convert it into digitized form. "


While I'm sure that is true from a technical point of view, the technology itself is seldom the barrier to successful e-government efforts. The larger problem is helping the culture to understand the benefits of e-government beyond merely lip service.

In an interview with Tommy Thompson (Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services) in the September 2004 issue of Wired, Stacy Lawrence leads with a question about HHS' efforts to build an integrated medial database by glibly asking: "So, databases that can talk to each other. Very 1999."

Lawrence's funny question really cuts to the point. I think the real question is Why we want to deal in data, not How do we do it.
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