Examination of Witnesses (Questions 951
WEDNESDAY 24 MAY 2000
Chairman: Good afternoon, welcome to the House
of Lords. I am sure you are going to enjoy your visit here this
afternoon. For those of us who went to the States, are very pleased
indeed to see you again and it is most kind of you to be prepared
to come and give further evidence to us following our rather extensive
session that we had in Washington. We have all read your further
paper very carefully indeed. What I propose this afternoon is
that those of us who were fortunate to go to Washington will not
actually be posing questions to you, but we will leave it to those
of our colleagues who were not able to make the trip and they
will lead the questions. We open first of all with a number from
951. Good afternoon. I have questions 1, 2 and
3 but I think 1 and 3 really are really linked together. Could
I ask you in fact question 2 first. You wrote: "On more than
one occasion, in both Washington and in Richmond, I have invited
federal leaders in electronic government to visit with my multi-agency
advisory body, the Council on Technology Services." Could
you please tell us a little more on how COTS works and whether
you think that such a body would be appropriate in this country
and in Europe?
(Mr Upson) I would be glad to. First, I have to open
by saying that I think that as the First Secretary of Technology
in Virginia, I think I am the first person to be able to testify
in one week before the House of Representatives and in the House
of Lords. The Council on Technology Services that we formed in
Virginia is our Inter-Agency Government Technology Management
Council. It is more than advisory. It is actually empowered to
select its executives from every major department agency, four
from higher education and three from local government. It goes
to one of the principles that we believe all governments have
to consider in putting forward a spectrum of government issues;
that is that it is hard to tell people what to do, and the one
thing that e-government challenges, and has to break down more
than anything else if we are going to be successful, is digital
signatures, the change in technology or changing our processes.
But the most important and the most difficult thing to change
is the stovepipe mentality of agencies, to each do their own thing,
stick to their own processes and protect their own turf. If that
continues to occur, it is allowed to occur and is not addressed
in a management structure, you will never be able to secure the
data which is increasingly the perception, as I mentioned before,
that data security is probably the principal concern that people
have. You will never be able to have a digital signature environment.
So our Council is intended to take people empowered with technology
and management responsibilities within their agencies, and put
them in a larger group, directed by me and reporting to the Governor,
that they have a broader mission: to give up their stovepipenot
give up, but consider what they do in a larger context. It is
fine to have a digital signature environment in the Department
of Motor Vehicles, but that has to be part of a government-wide
standard, so we do not have 35 different digital signature environments.
And the question that was posed by me three days ago, and two
days ago, by Congress was, "Could that work at the Federal
level?" At a Federal level, I think you are asking. I think
it can. I think you would have to have these agreements again,
that the empowered body of individually powerful technology leaders,
who are powerful in their own organisation, meet collectively
as a body in a formal structure and that important executive management
buying, both from the chief executive and the legislature. Without
that, you do not have the focus, and you will not be able to accomplish
the kind of things that we are talking about today. We have spent
a lot of time in putting that management structure together before
we actually moved on major, government-wide initiatives, because
we wanted to break down that stovepipe mentality.
952. But is it joined-up government in the electronic
(Mr Upson) Yes, it is.
953. Can I move back to question one now, where
you said: "We are striving to accomplish these goals"that
is, in governmentin Virginia, and through our unabashed
embrace of technology and innovative thinking, we are achieving
results." How are you getting on?
(Mr Upson) Are we achieving results? What are we doing?
Again, it goes to the whole notion of stakeholder driven government.
I am glad to be joined by colleagues of mine from the business
community from Virginia on this trip here. We also believe that
we ask at the very top, "What is government? What should
government do in this newvery newmodern age, this
new revolution? What is the role of government?" And we believe
the role of government is to serve two purposes in Virginia which
the Governor has defined. Those are: we want to create the best
business environment for technology companies anywhere, and we
want to ensure that all our citizens have access to the digital
economy. What are the government processes that serve that and
how do we get there? We bring stakeholders into the game. I talk
about the Council on Technology Services representing not only
state government agencies, but the levels of government that we
are intersect with. And, by the way, I go back. My recommendation
to a Federal government would be to include all levels of government
in a management body because that is where the data flows up and
down. But I think what we have doneand I apologise for
a usually fine American companybut United Parcel Services
has packets, and we have some evidence to give to you on a business-led
commission that I co-chair, again bringing the stakeholders in
the game to develop with us the kind of environment that meets
their needs and the needs of the education community in Virginia.
We used input. We did not just use input; we had an incredibly
participatory environment where we solicited input from the businesses
themselves on what kind of legal environment we should have as
a state. Of course, then someone would argue why we should we
have one, because the internet knows no boundaries. But the result
of our work is an Internet Policy Act and the enactment of a uniform
commercial code for the information age in Virginia. That law
has been now modelled in 14 other states and is a model for Federal
legislation that is now in place. But the point is, getting there,
we did not do what we usually do in government, at least in the
United States, which is to go into our revered chambers and come
out with grand solutions and impart our wisdom on our constituents
or to try to elicit support. We asked them to help us. Our results
are that we have education, business and government all very excited
and achieving results in terms of electronic government, in terms
of putting in place a legal environment, in terms of attracting
attention, attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth; and
in terms of really providing focus for, I think, electronic government,
which is more than just the processes on the inside.
954. Thank you. When you are referring to the
July 1999 Executive Order, you wrote: "As part of that Executive
Order, all Executive Branch agencies will submit to my office
by June 1 comprehensive plans for Web enabling . . ." and
so on. Has it ever happened, or is it going to happen? Are they
happy to do it?
(Mr Upson) As a matter of fact, again using our Council
on Technology Services, getting direction and input on exactly
that from our business and education community, we have had a
few, but our first ever assessment. We have between 400 and 500
state officials participate in an on-going series of meetings
at my office, which is supposed to provide guidelines on exactly
what we are looking for and how we do this together. None of us
have ever done it before in any government so we are making it
up as we go, which I think has got people excited too. But I think
what we are going to achieve is every government form in the citizen's
use will be available on-line and that is really one of the goals
of the First Executive Order. TodayI am not there, I am
herebut the Governor is releasing an Executive Order among
Deputy Secretaries, explaining it to all agency heads, that will
take the plans that are being submitted in July and put in place
a digital signature implementation plan. My Council on Technology
Services has spent 11 months putting together a comprehensive
digital signature plan that looks at laws that had to be changed
so that we can allow electronic signatures, that looks at the
technology, the kinds of standards that we are going to adopt
as a state so that we will have different levels of security for
different kinds of signatures that are required. We will have
a full implementation of a digital signature plan so that when
those on-line priorities come into my office in July, citizens
not only will be able to take a form of the internet and download
it. Our vision for what we are trying to achieve with the first
set of Executive Orders is this. A citizen, looking to a single
port, will be able to execute multiple transactions across multiple
agencies with a single digital signature. So the second Executive
Order gives it the implementation of a digital signature initiative,
among other things.
955. Is COTS popular outside the people whom
you have actually instructed? Do you have people clamouring at
your door, given the opportunity that is there now?
(Mr Upson) Is COTS popular? We meet monthly and we
have seven sub-committees and we reach into the agencies, education
and local government communities, and our sub-committees have
up to 65 members, and they are broken out into digital signatures,
seat management, our IT work force inside the government, data
security and privacy. We reach into the private sector. We have
our private sector participation and our sub-committees, and it
is one of the most popular monthly government meetings that we
have in the Virginia government. We usually have over one hundredit
is a public meetingprivate sector and public sector attendees.
So again, it gets to that notion of trying to create the bindingget
to where we need to go because people want to get there. If you
get that satisfied up front, I think the rest is easy. The issues,
in my view in 23 years of growing up with this industry, never
are about technology. The technology is always there to do things.
The problem, I think, all of us face is the speeches about computers
in schools are always a different speech than about education.
What we are trying to do is bring all those people together so
that those speeches become one and the same, and that gets us
working on it all together.
956. Just for the record, could I ask you just
to confirm that by the 31 December this year you hope to have
in place the technology for all forms for all the agencies in
Virginia to be available to be downloaded by its citizens?
(Mr Upson) Yes, and we are also That is true.
And in addition to that we have our digital signatures pilots
out there now that, I believe, will validate and support the kinds
of standards that the Council develop so that, in real time, we
will also be able to execute those forms over the internet rather
than just download them and mail them in. When you think about
it, it is kind of silly what we do with our taxes.
957. So it will be one way traffic for the time
(Mr Upson) I am sorry?
958. It will be one way trafficit will
be from the state to the citizen in downloading. What is the interaction
back into the state itself from the citizen? The percentage level?
(Mr Upson) In terms of what we can do right now?
959. What it will be like after the 31 December?
(Mr Upson) I cannot give you a percentage, but I can
give you three quick examples. Taxes: we had 160,000 forms filed
online last year. We put in place a new modern tax reporting system
online, where literally you can do the complete transaction, not
just print it out and mail it in. It is up to 560,000 this year.
Drivers' licences: first, we are the only state in the country
where you can renew a driver's licence online and it is a very
easy process. It is one thing to be able to go online and get
your pin number and go through that process. Our database is,
we search it, we send it to you; we give you the pin number and,
if you wait until the very last minute before your licence expires,
you can still conduct the transaction, and print out the receipt.
When you print out the receipt, the police are notified that your
licence is valid and the receipt is a valid driver's licence.
That is the kind of service. That service everybody is using.
The publicwe have a 90 per cent customer satisfaction with
our Department of Motor Vehicles. The third is our regulatory
town hall. If you are working with the Federal Government at any
stage, you are trying to follow regulations. Every day you have
to look at a State Register or Federal Register. In Virginia we
have a new law since last year, requiring all agencies to print
their regulations electronically and to receive input electronically.
Let us say you are interested in the environmental regulations
in Virginia. You just type that in, put an email address in and
you never have to search again. We will send you an e-mail when
the time comes for change. So those are real examples. I am not
sure if I have the percentage available. That is a good question.
Chairman: Lord Bradshaw? Have you a question?