Issues relating to government use of IT.

Congress should require that any transit authority that is receiving federal public transportation funding and has a contactless fare payment system move to an interoperable standard.

One key to driving innovation through procurement is to support open standards architectures. By adopting technologies that are interoperable with non-federal applications, federal procurement can help drive widespread adoption. Requiring transit agencies to deploy contactless fare payment systems that are interoperable with those of other transit agencies around the country would allow passengers to easily pay for ridership in different public transportation systems across the country with a single smart card. (For example, commuters could use their WMATA SmarTrip card to make payments on New York’s MTA subway system, or vice versa.)

Government ID programs such as the Department of Defense’s Common Access Card and the Transportation Worker Identification Credential should move to an open architecture that allows electronic wallet applications to be housed on the card.

One key to driving innovation through procurement is to support open standards architectures. By adopting technologies that are interoperable with non-federal applications, federal procurement can help drive widespread adoption. An open architecture would allow these cards to house electronic wallet applications that would, for example, let employees load a contactless payment application issued by transit authorities so they would not have to have a separate SmarTrip card to ride the Washington, D.C. metro system (or those of other transit authorities). The functionality would be integrated into one single card, which could also support other functions, such as a debit card to pay for meals in government cafeterias or fees in parking garages.

Government agencies, both at the federal and state level, should commit to deploying contactless payments infrastructure, including NFC-enabled POS readers and NFC-capable mobile phones.

For example, the Government Services Administration should commit to installing contactless point of sale terminals in all cafeterias and parking garages it directly operates in government agencies and facilities. Installing contactless point of sale terminals in federal facilities would promote the adoption and use of mobile contactless payment technologies while saving money, since contactless POS terminals reduce the need for attended checkout stations.

Congress can invest in reusable digital content and applications to better communicate with and protect citizens.

Although the fixed costs of producing data or an application might be high, one of digital information’s benefits is that the marginal cost of creating an additional copy is typically minimal. Creating digital data using interoperable standards, such as sharable and reusable Extensible Markup Language (XML), multiplies its value many times — this can be far more valuable than just building a Web site or an application that solves a single problem.

Congress should require federal agencies to provide savings and other incentives to citizens that use e-government services

If citizens, particularly lower income citizens, could save more money by being on line, they would be more able to afford to subscribe to broadband. One way for government to enable this is to pass along the savings from online interactions to citizens. For many governmental activities it costs government less if citizens use an online channel, as opposed to using mail, telephone, or in-person channels. This includes services like paying taxes, fees, and fines (e.g., parking tickets), renewing permits and licenses, and other activities where citizens pay. Some governments provide a discount for citizens using the lower-cost e-government channel. More governments should do the same.

Congress should develop “Turbo-Tax”- like e-government applications, especially for business interactions with government.

Most states have business portals that allow entrepreneurs to find information about creating a business online, but too few of these sites actually navigate users through regulatory process of creating and maintaining a business online. These portals should be run more like tax preparation software created by companies that guide taxpayer through numerous options to maximize their savings. Based on location and other relevant information entered by an individual, the software tools would automatically generate all the forms for all the government agencies (including local, state and federal) that apply. “Wizard” software could guide individuals through processes by asking them questions and on the basis of answers help them fill out the required forms. These programs would allow people to automatically file forms to the appropriate government agencies. Such "turbo" tools could radically simplify the process of dealing with government, providing savings.

Congress should provide funding for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to issue grants for developing secure end-to-end cryptographic voting protocols and for pilot testing of new electronic voting technology.

Although voting systems still can be improved, Congress should not ban any voting machine simply because it is fully electronic. Paper ballots introduce many weaknesses of their own and are less secure than more advanced cryptographic voting systems. Instead, Congress should fund research and development of voting systems that offer end-to-end verifiability that provides voters the opportunity to verify that their vote is included in the final tally while still preserving voter anonymity.

Buying Innovation: How Public Procurement Can Spur Innovation

October 21, 2010
| Reports