Local E-Government in the United States: Transformation or Incremental Change?


  • Donald F. Norris is professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy and director of the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He specializes in urban politics, public management, and the adoption, management, and impacts of information technology, including electronic government, in public organizations. E-mail: norris@umbc.edu

  • Christopher G. Reddick is professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His research and teaching interests are in information technology and public sector organizations. E-mail: chris.reddick@utsa.edu


In this article, the authors address the recent trajectory of local e-government in the United States and compare it with the predictions of early e-government writings, using empirical data from two nationwide surveys of e-government among American local governments. The authors find that local e-government has not produced the results that those writings predicted. Instead, its development has largely been incremental, and local e-government is mainly about delivering information and services online, followed by a few transactions and limited interactivity. Local e-government is also mainly one way, from government to citizens, and there is little or no evidence that it is transformative in any way. This disparity between early predictions and actual results is partly attributable to the incremental nature of American public administration. Other reasons include a lack of attention by early writers to the history of information technology in government and the influence of technological determinism on those writings.