Govt lays ground online

A group of new .govt domain names appear to show a greater committment to putting government activities online.

A group of new .govt domain names appear to show a greater committment to putting government activities online.

The two-year-old Environmental Risk Management Agency, whose lack of communication has been the subject of debate this year, got its own domain name (erma.govt.nz) last month, as did the Royal Commission on genetically modified food (gmcommission.govt.nz).

The national e-commerce summit set for September has showed up, with the registration of ecommerce-summit.govt.nz and esummit.govt.nz and the Waitangi Tribunal finally has its own domain name, in waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz. Government House has also become a place in cyberspace, with govthouse.govt.nz. The Treasury-run monetary policy review shows up with the domain name monpolreview.govt.nz.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Government Online, the official gateway to government on the Web, moved last Friday to its new home in the e-government unit at the State Services Commission. The project had been based at the Department of Internal Affairs, one of two agencies (the other was the former Ministry of Commerce) from which individual staff began to put government content online four years ago.

The government's Website got official Vote funding for the first time in this year's Budget, as part of the new e-government unit. It has recently been funded on a "club" basis, with the 285 agencies listed on the site each paying a small annual fee.

The chairman of the NZGO agencies' advisory board, Dr Russ Ballard, chief executive of Land Information New Zealand, says NZGO is integral to the e-government responsibilities of the new unit.

"Many of the projects of e-government will require NZGO as host, for example provision of integrated services across departments such as e-billing, payment of benefits or grants, forms online, business and public registers."

Dr Ballard says NZGO is not only successful, but innovative in world terms because of the way it is managed.

"The American equivalent to NZGO is run out of the White House because they feel the authority of the President is needed to ensure federal government departments work together to enhance access by citizens to government information and services. By contrast, NZGO was developed as a 'bottom-up initiative' led by chief executives. It is a model of collaborative action with departments working together to enhance the collective interest of government."

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