Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Pacific Northwest Digital Government Summit
July 18, 2001

(Governor's remarks delivered by his press secretary/communications director, Dana Middleton)

On behalf of Governor Locke, I am delighted to welcome all of you to the second annual Pacific Northwest Digital Government Summit.

We've reached a watershed in bringing digital government to the people of the Pacific Northwest.

Our region has always been in the vanguard of new ideas and movements that have transformed this country and connected our global community.

In the 1990s Microsoft and Amazon helped launch the information revolution with knowledge and innovation that rose from the shadows of the Cascades. The Pacific Northwest is leading the nation in government technology.

Celebrating our Accomplishments
We in Washington can take enormous pride in the achievements of building a digital government by combining the best web-based applications, e-commerce tools and carefully defined policies for efficient, reliable and secure services on the Internet.

The results have received national recognition. Washington recently received its third consecutive Digital State Award from the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Center for Digital Government, and Government Technology magazine. This award recognizes the work of dozens of organizations that are delivering hundreds of online services to the public.

Two years ago, the governor challenged state agencies to develop four marquee applications. Our state agencies delivered.

One piece of business that almost every Washington resident does with state government each year is to renew vehicle registrations. The state needed to enable vehicle license tab renewals over the Internet. The Department of Licensing delivered. We also knew that we could use the Internet to streamline the process of starting a business in Washington and handling annual corporate renewals. Again, state agencies delivered.

As these marquee applications were being developed, the state was creating an infrastructure that now supports more than 300 digital government applications. And that's just the beginning!

Last week, our Department of Social and Health Services, in cooperation with a half-dozen other state agencies, established a new Internet web page that will help keep doctors, hospitals, employers and the public up-to-date on changes as the nation's health-care system moves toward a standardized electronic billing and claims system.

This week, DSHS will preview an extraordinary new Internet site that will offer unprecedented access to the agency and its services.

As the governor told Government Technology magazine, which helped make this event possible, "digital government should and does mean something deeper than providing a given service online. It is a longterm outlook that fundamentally changes the manner in which governments respond to and think about their constituents. It transforms organizations on the inside and makes them more outward facing."

We in state government are not alone. The City of Seattle's website has been named the best in local government by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine, among other awards.

Now the Washington Software Alliance has created a "dot-gov" category in their annual Achievement Awards. We are proud that Access Washington was the first recipient! The great thing about this competition is that, because it encourages us to do our best work, citizens win every time. We can proudly say that the citizens of our state have a government that is as innovative and dynamic as the character of its citizens.

Meeting the Next Challenges
Now that the framework is in place, we need to make the changes in organization, in process and in what our people do that takes full advantage of this powerful new technology. This technology can and will transform the business of government, making it more responsive, more effective and more trusted than our fellow citizens ever dreamed possible.

We are all in this together. When we created Access Washington, we realized that most people do not know or care how state government is organized. They have a question and they want an answer. They have a problem and they want a solution. So we adopted a common look and feel for our web sites. We designed our portal to direct people to what they want, without first having to master a short civics course. Our new "Ask George" search engine is only the latest example.

Following these design principles is not something we do for government -- it is something we do for citizens. Citizens who have a reasonable expectation that dot-gov services should look and behave alike. It's not too much to ask.

But we need to take the next logical step. People are not always sure whether their needs can be met by the state, local or federal government. So we need to do more to link digital government seamlessly across jurisdictions, so that a resident of Snohomish County can use Access Washington to reach a service provided by the Social Security Administration -- if that is what she needs.

As the dot-com shakeout reminds us, providers of web-based services need to be constantly asking themselves whether they have a sustainable business model that truly meets customer needs. We in government are no different: we, too, must continue to ask ourselves the hard questions and have the courage to change when we must in order to be successful.

Digital government places the citizen in charge. Government is about trust. Digital technologies can help us keep democracy's promise of open and responsive government, transforming our processes and extending the opportunities to every community and to every child in the state.

We know there was a time that when any citizen could walk into the White House and make a personal appointment to see President Abraham Lincoln. We may live in different times now but in a sense we are striving to make government more accessible to its citizens.

Whether it is a dad reserving a campsite for his family on the Internet or a mother monitoring the progress of a bill that will enhance the safety of her son's car seat -- we here in Washington are leading the nation in making our government more responsive and accessible.

In this truly revolutionary time, we are striving for a government as dynamic and innovative as its citizens.

Thank you.
Related Links:
- Pacific Northwest Digital Government Summit 2001
- Government Technology magazine
- Washington wins nation's Digital State Award
- Progress & Freedom Foundation
- Center for Digital Government
- Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
- Washington State Department of General Administration
- Washington State Department of Licensing
- Access Washington
- City of Seattle
- WSA (formerly Washington Software Alliance)

Access Washington