Digital government – Academics study agencies

The National Science Foundation has formed a partnership to bring together computer science researchers and federal, state and local agencies to improve the quantity and quality of online government services.

Online government services are easy for citizens to use, but bring problems of their own, says Yigal Arens, who co-directs NSF’s Digital Government Research Center.

“It’s no longer a question of whether each agency has a Web site or database,” Arens says, “but how to make all those different systems work together so that both agencies and the public can get the most out of the information in them.”

NSF’s Digital Government program aims to solve those problems.  The program, which has invested $12.5 million in the last two years, makes research grants to universities ranging between $100,000 and $500,000 a year, in addition to smaller planning and workshop grants.

The new Digital Government.Org consortium aims to help academics understand government problems and transfer any resulting technologies to member agencies.

Current NSF-funded digital government projects include improving citizen access to government statistics, managing information for law enforcement, installing a test system of high-speed communications for emergency management and providing security for confidential data.

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