December 13, 1998
To: Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
From: Owen Ambur
Subject: Electronic Commerce Strategy
This memorandum outlines a strategy for electronic commerce (EC) in support of the mission and goals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As stated in our Strategic Plan, our mission is:
Today we cannot fulfill our responsibilities the old-fashioned way, and we cannot hope to satisfy much less excite our customers without applying the tools of automation to our trade. As set forth in National Policy Issuance 96-02, the policy of our agency with respect to customer service is as follows:
Six "core" customer service standards are documented in the appendix to NPI 96-02, as follows:
Four broad goals are identified in our Strategic Plan, under the headings of: 1) Sustainability of Fish and Wildlife Populations, 2) Habitat Conservation, 3) Americans and Wildlife, and 4) Workforce Excellence.(3) Under each of these broad mission goals, various more specific strategic goals are identified. Implicit in the pursuit of each is the application of IT. Indeed, a specific plan should be developed for the management of the necessary and important information associated with each strategic goal, and such plans should drive IT investments and operations in a well-coordinated fashion throughout the agency.(4) It is beyond the scope of this memorandum to address such needs comprehensively, but several opportunities will be highlighted for which EC may have the highest potential payoff.
Among the most important is Strategic Goal 1.6, which states: "By 2002, 40% of endangered and threatened species populations are stabilized or improved." In pursuit of that goal, the Plan makes the following observations with respect to the Habitat Conservation Planning (HCP) process authorized by section 10 of the Endangered Species Act(5):
While there are large and myriad gaps in the data needed to support such a system in virtually every local area, much less nationwide, there are data elements as well as organizational rules and procedures that are common to the process in every area.(8) (For information on GAP Analysis, see Scott, 1997.) Starting with those common factors, it would be beneficial to use the Internet as a universal platform for continuous improvement in each local area while sharing, reutilizing, and building the base of knowledge across all geographic regions. While FAQ, case studies, and narratives on lessons learned are all well and good, the objective should be to build as much intelligence and expertise as possible into the system itself, thereby reducing the length and cost of the value chain, including the learning curve, for those whose partnership is vital to the success of HCPs everywhere.
As Norman (1988) has noted, knowledge may be in one of two places - in the head or in the world.(9) The objective should be to render "in the world" as much "common knowledge" as possible, so as to enable humans to focus their time and efforts on addressing that which is unique to their own circumstances of time and place. That is the essence of expert systems. Habitat conservation planning is an especially high value opportunity for application of the principle, and the Internet is an especially potent platform for such an application.(10)
Strategic Goal 2.1 is: "By 2002, agreements are reached among the Service, other federal agencies, nations, states, tribes, local governments, and private landowners and organizations to provide habitat for marine mammals and migratory, endangered, threatened, interjurisdictional and other species associated with ecosystems conserved in cooperation with others."
As acknowledged in the analysis of our external environment (Ambur,1998, October 11), few of our stakeholders and potential partners are willing or able to conduct business with us strictly by electronic means. However, regardless of the means by which habitat conservation agreements are reached, a strategic objective should be established to make all of them readily available on the Internet in a logically well-organized and fully searchable fashion, together with as much of the supportive data and documentation as possible.(11)
The objective of making habitat conservation documentation readily available cannot be efficiently and effectively accomplished without implementing an Internet-based electronic document management system (EDMS).(12) (See Ambur, 1996, November.) As mandated by Raines' Rules, such a system should be implemented in small, manageable "chunks," using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components that comply with applicable industry standards for interoperability. It would be highly desirable if the system is compliant with: a) the interoperability standards established by the Document Management Alliance (DMA), and b) the records management requirements specified by the Department of Defense (DISA) as applicable to all Federal agencies.(13)
Moreover, to the degree that any of our stakeholders may be ready to conduct business with us by electronic means, no opportunity should be missed to incorporate them into an extranet application of the EDMS. Not only is it in our best interest to do so, but for some agencies and some documents, providing the means for the public to supply information in electronic form will be a legal mandate under the newly enacted Government Paperwork Elimination Act (G-PEA).(14) Accordingly, a strategic objective should be established for the National Conservation and Training Center (NCTC) to conduct EC-readiness training not only for our prospective external partners but especially for our own employees.(15) Such training should focus on how best and most efficiently to share both categories of "business quality" information, i.e., highly structured data (E-forms) and relatively unstructured documents (E-docs).(16)
Strategic Goal 2.5 states: "By 2000, mechanisms are developed - in consultation with others - and implemented to determine the habitat benefits of Service consultative and technical assistance." However, the Plan notes:
Strategic Goal 3.1 is: "By 2002, an increasing percentage of Americans are reached by Service activities and understand the relationship between healthy fish and wildlife resources and sound management practices."
Recognizing that many of our stakeholders - which in the context of this goal are all Americans - are not ready, willing or able to be reached by electronic means, the Service nonetheless should establish as strategic goals: a) to reach as many citizens as possible by such means, particularly via the Internet, and b) to ensure that all of our own employees develop as a core competency the ability to use a Servicewide Internet-based EDMS to access and use any and all of our important public records.(17) Accordingly, regardless of the additional components that must be interjected into the supply chain to reach the customer, our own employees will be well-equipped with the necessary tool and skills to minimize the length of the internal value chain.
Indeed, a similar objective has already been identified under the umbrella of workforce excellence, specifically Strategic Goal 4.1: "By 2002, agreed standards of workforce excellence are achieved." Among the factors to be addressed in pursuit of that goal are the following:
The key to achievement of the latter objective is the use of standardized automated data (E-forms) and document management (EDMS) systems throughout the agency. Indeed, among the best practices employed by private industry is decentralized authority and decision-making supported by centrally designed and managed information systems. Although the culture of our agency is not supportive of such a system, there is no real alternative if these workforce excellence objectives are to be realized. The same is true of Strategic Goal 4.2, which states: "By 2002, Service business practices are conducted to achieve best management practices." Among the factors to be encompassed are:
With reference to the regulatory process, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has established a best management practice in rulemaking for the National Organic Program (NOP).(18) Malkin (1998) has provided an update on regulatory requirements being applied to Department of the Interior bureaus, and Ambur (1998, June 29) has proposed that the Service pilot a regulatory notice and comment (RegNot) system similar to AMS' NOP.(19)
As expressed in the Service's Information Resources Management Strategic Plan, the mission of the Division of Information Resources Management (IRM) is:
Our Great Lakes - Big Rivers Region (Region 3) has shown commendable leadership in instituting a Web-based E-forms interface to facilitate the collection of "performance data" - namely information on program accomplishments. However, the application suffers from the fact that it is separate from the means by which the related documentation is actually processed. Thus, it establishes a separate, after-the-fact, make-work reporting process that adds little or no value to the supply chain itself. Moreover, the focus on "accomplishments" reflects a bias that belies the need for true and accurate measures of performance.
In a world of few absolutes, failures may be equally or more valuable learning experiences than successes. The taxpayers should not be forced to bear the expense of an outside audit by the General Accounting Office (GAO) to derive the benefit of such experience. While it may be unrealistic to expect individuals to tout the failures of their organizations, the systems within which they conduct their business should automatically gather and maintain true and accurate performance measures in support of continuous, real-time audits by the managers of the organization itself. In the real world, both success and failure are relative terms on a continuum of possibilities. In the information age, it is the role of managers not merely to have a good understanding of where the organization stands in the big picture on a yearly or quarterly basis but also to feel the "pulse" of the organization as it interacts with its stakeholders each day.
To the credit of the leadership of Region 3, a request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for enhancements to their system. Whether it can and should be expanded agencywide remains to be seen. However, one way or another, there is no doubt that such a system is required if the Service is to fulfill its obligations to the public under GPRA, much less its obligations to itself to engage in effective management of resources.
One important purpose that Region 3's system does facilitate is communications with the public, as envisioned not only by GPRA but also the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments (E-FOIA). Also, with reference to the "freedom" of information, the Service has a FOIA home page as well as Web pages for frequently asked questions (FAQ) and "Web page contacts." In addition, each member of the Directorate has designated a representative to serve on the agencywide Web Publishing Council, and an RFP is being issued for contractor support to review and enhance the organization and presentation of our Web offerings.
Beyond our agency, some of the related efforts include the Federal Electronic Commerce Program (FEPCO), U.S. Electronic Grants Project (USEGP), Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES), Electronic Records Work Group (ERWG), Department of the Interior forms automation (E-forms) initiative, Blue Pages project(21), Global/Government Information Locator Service (GILS)(22), Advanced Search Facility (ASF), WebGov(23), Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) and DAV Searching and Locating (DASL).
While each of these initiatives represents a hopeful step in the right direction, on balance they are indicators of how far we have yet to go to meet the standard of service to which the public as well as our own employees are entitled. The standard of service to which we should aspire is direct and immediate access to any and all of our public records by anyone anywhere anytime. Implicit is the need to capture and effectively manage each record throughout its full life cycle within the agency, and G-PEA extends that requirement to information supplied by the public as well.(24) Not only should employees and members of the public be able to quickly retrieve any public information they need, but they must also be given the opportunity to supply information by electronic means.(25)
In short, both logic and law require the implementation of an Internet-enabled electronic document/records management system (EDMS/ERMS) operating as a component of a seamless nationwide extranet.(26) There is no alternative way to construct an efficient supply chain to support the demand for public service to which we are morally and legally bound. The use of fuzzy, feel-good buzzwords like groupware, data warehousing, knowledge management, and electronic commerce is no substitute for "operationalization" of the underlying requirements. Leadership, training, and decisive, effective action are essential.
In summary, as an overriding strategic goal, this memorandum proposes that the Service should aim to process all of our documentation in a networked (Internet/extranet) EDMS so that our tacit knowledge and that of our stakeholders will automatically be made explicit in the routine course of business. With that goal in mind, among the myriad possibilities, the following strategic objectives with potentially high payoff are suggested:
ACES. Access Certificates for Electronic Services. Home page available at: http://www.gsa.gov/aces/aces.html
Ambur, O. (1995, August 3). "Functional, Technical, and Resource Requirements for the Servicewide Document Management System: Findings of the Requirements Analysis Team, Together with Recommendations and Alternatives." Division of Information Resources Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ambur, O. (1996, November). "Needles in Haystacks: Getting to the Point of Federal Records with Document Metadata and Electronic Document Management Systems." University of Maryland University College. Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/Needles.html
Ambur, O. (1997, May). "Automated Forms: Putting the Customer First Through Intelligent Object-Oriented Chunking of Information and Technology." University of Maryland University College. Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/Eforms.html
Ambur, O. (1997, September). "Metadata or Malfeasance: Which Will It Be? September 1997." Proceedings of the IEEE Metadata Conference. Available at: http://computer.org/conferen/proceed/meta97/papers/oambur/malfea1.html
Ambur, O. (1997, December). "1-800-SAY-THE-WORD: The X.500 Blue Pages Key to Stockholder/Customer-Accessible Government." Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/BluePage.html
Ambur, O. (1998, June 29). "Regulatory Notice and Comment System (RegNot)." Draft Project Charter. Division of Information Resources Management. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ambur, O. (1998, October 11). "External Audit of Factors Affecting the Demand for Electronic Commerce." University of Maryland University College. Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/ECaudit.html
Ambur, O. (1998, November 1). "Smart Cards - Opportunities, Threats and European Versus U.S. Acceptance." University of Maryland University College. Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/SmartCrd.html
Ambur, O. (1998, November 24). "Our Agency's Supply Chain as a Traditional Versus Networked Organization." University of Maryland University College. Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/NetOrg.html
Andel, T. (1998, June). "Chains That Set You Free: Material Handling Industry of America's Proposed Service Supply Chain." Material Handling Engineering. No. 6, Vol. 53. p. SCF3.
ASF. "Advanced Search Facility." Home page available at: http://asf.gils.net/
Bender, K., Maruca, M., Ambur, O., Bauer, T., and Killcullen, K. (1994, November 30). "Reinventing Controlled Correspondence: A Report by the Task Force on Controlled Correspondence and the Document Surnaming Process." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Barr, S. (1998, December 9). "Survey Back Gore's Long-Haul View of 'Reinvention'." The Washington Post. p. A23.
CEMT. U.S. Government Blue Pages. Home page at: http://bp.fed.gov/
DASL. "DAV Searching and Locating." Home page available at: http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/dasl/
DISA, Joint Interoperability Test Command. "Records Management Application (RMA) Certification Testing." Available at: http://jitc-emh.army.mil/recmgt/
E-Forms. Forms Managers Workgroup. Department of the Interior. Home page available at: http://www.doi.gov/oirm/formsmgt/formsbkg.html
ERWG. Electronic Records Work Group. Home page available at: http://www.nara.gov/records/grs20/
Federal Electronic Commerce Program Office (FECPO). Home page available at: http://ec.fed.gov/
Frame, J.D. (1994). The New Project Management. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
GILS. "Global/Government Information Locator Service." Home page available at: http://www.gils.net/index.html
Government Executive. (1998, December). "Digital Democracy: Agricultural Marketing Service" p. 50. Available at: http://www.govexec.com/tech/award/98awards.htm
Government Paperwork Elimination Act. Available at: http://www.fws.gov/laws/G-PEA.html
Harreld, H. (1998, September 7). "NPR fashions info gateway: New WebGov project links together information sources governmentwide." Federal Computer Week. Available at: http://18.104.22.168/pubs/fcw/1998/0907/fcw-agnpr-9-7-98.html
Kovacic, W. (1998, December 6). "The Big, The Bad and The Merged." The Washington Post. pp. C1 & C5.
Malkin, K. (1998, December 3). "Update of Regulatory Requirements." Memorandum to Washington Office Directorate.
Norman, D. (1988). The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Ohara, C. (1996, November 18). "Report suggests GILS, X.500 link." Federal Computer Week. Available at: http://www.fcw.com/pubs/fcw/1118/policy.htm
Raines, F. (1996, October 25). "Rules on Federal Information Systems Investments (Raines' Rules)." Office of Management and Budget. Summarized at: http://www.fws.gov/laws/itmra.html
Sangster, A. (1994). Editorial. International Journal of Applied Expert Systems. Vol. 2, Issue 1. Available at: http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~sangster/edit2_1.htm
Schneider, D. (1998, February). "Document Management System Interoperability - The Need, The Answer: A White Paper for Federal Agency CIOs and IT Architects." Available at: http://www.erols.com/ambur/DMA.html
Scott, J.M. (1997, ) "A Description of the National Gap Analysis Program." Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Available at: http://www.gap.uidaho.edu/gap/AboutGAP/GapDescription/Index.htm
Silver, B. (1998, December). "Everything you really need to know about KM." KMWorld. p. 20.
Smart, T. (1998, December 4). "Increasingly, Size Counts: Falling Prices in a World of Plenty Drive Mergers Such as Exxon-Mobil." The Washington Post. pp. D1 & D10.
TSG, Inc. (1998, December 9). "Enterprise Document Management: FAQS About COR." Available at: http://www.tsg.com/html/cor_faqs.html
USEGP. U.S. Electronic Grants Project. Home page available at: http://www.fra.dot.gov/doc/egp/ehome/inbrief.htm and prospective benefits listed at: http://www.fra.dot.gov/doc/egp/ehome/benefits.htm
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (1996, August 6). Customer Service Standards. National Policy Issuance 96-02 and Appendix. Available at: http://www.fws.gov/who/npi9602.html and http://www.fws.gov/who/appendx.html. FY 1996 Customer Service Report available at: http://www.fws.gov/who/rept96.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Strategic Plan. Available at: http://www.fws.gov/r9gpra/finaltoc.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Division of Endangered Species. "Frequently Asked Questions - Habitat Conservation Planning." Available at: http://www.fws.gov/r9endspp/hcp/hcpplan.html. Approved HCPs are listed at: http://www.fws.gov/r9endspp/hcp/hcptable.pdf.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Division of Information Resources Management. "FY1997-2000 Information Resources Management (IRM) Strategic Plan." Available at: http://www.fws.gov/pullenl/planning/svision1.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (1998, February). "Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 1999." Available at: http://www.fws.gov/r9gpra/toc.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Home Page." Available at: http://www.fws.gov/r9pdm/foia/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Frequently Asked Questions." Available at: http://www.fws.gov/r9extaff/pafaq/pafaq.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Web Page Contacts." Available at: http://www.fws.gov/who/contact.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Region 3 Accomplishments Reporting System. Available at: http://www.fws.gov/r3pao/ars/fwsr3arf.html
U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division. National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII). Home page: http://www.nbii.gov/
WebDAV. "Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning." Home page available at: http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/webdav/
1. Kovacic (1998) reports:
3. The four goals set forth in our Strategic Plan are summarized as follows:
Goal 2. Habitat Conservation: A Network of Lands and Waters -- An ecologically diverse network of lands and waters - of various ownerships - is conserved, in cooperation with others, to provide habitats for marine mammals and migratory, interjurisdictional, threatened, endangered and other species associated with ecosystems conserved
Goal 3. Americans and Wildlife -- Americans have the opportunity to understand and participate in the conservation and use of fish and wildlife resources.
Goal 4. Workforce Excellence -- The Service's workforce, scientific capability and business practices - in cooperation with the Department's scientific expertise - fully support the achievement of its mission.
5. The Endangered Species Act, including section 10, is summarized at http://www.fws.gov/laws/federal/summaries/esa.html and the actual text of the law may also be accessed there.
6. The NBII is an electronic gateway to biological data and information maintained by Federal, State, and local government agencies; private sector organizations; and other partners around the nation and the world.
7. For discussion of a customer-focused versus the data-centric approach to systems development, see Ambur, 1997, May.
8. Frame (p. 56) notes that expert systems are most viable in highly structured, rule-based environments. While the data and information required for each HCP are unique, the rules and procedures by which they are compiled and implemented are substantially the same. Thus, as with any IT effort, the focus should be on automating the functions and procedures that are standard for the common users.
9. In discussions of Knowledge Management (KM), distinction is drawn between explicit versus tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is that which has not been documented but is embedded in the brains of members of an organization and, thus, implicit in the way it conducts its affairs. The aim of KM is to make explicit the tacit knowledge that is important to the competitive survival of the organization, so that it can be more widely and effectively shared and exploited.
Highlighting the most salient points in a report on KM applications, markets and technologies, Velker (1998) notes that the goal is: "... to create a 'connected environment' for knowledge exchange... [which] is the technical embodiment of the corporate memory." The report classifies KM vendors as follows:
Silver (1998) posits a KM YADDA (yet another domain division analysis) model defined by four segments: operational knowledge, collaborative knowledge, knowledge about the world, and customer knowledge. From the perspective of users with respect to the design of IT systems, Ambur (1997, May) has offered a different, three-segmented taxonomy for information management. However, both approaches focus on the key issue highlighted by Silver: "What kind of information am I dealing with?" In other words, what is important is not the "groupware" (software applications) but the wares of the group. Both the groups and the groupware are means to ends. The ends are the wares themselves.
If people are not fully using the capabilities of groupware, that suggests one of three things: a) the application is not appropriate or well designed to support the process; b) the process is not appropriate or well designed to support production of the "infowares" at issue; or c) the people involved have not been given proper training, leadership, and incentives. In any event, the focus of IT systems planning, design, and implementation efforts should be on building the supply chain necessary to support the production of those wares as efficiently and effectively as possible. See Ambur (1997, May) for discussion of the types of tools that are appropriate to the management of each class of infoware.
10. Several years ago, Sangster (1994) editorialized on the need for reports on the failure of efforts to build expert systems, and lessons learned therefrom. His home page is at http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~sangster/index.html. However, thus far, attempts have been unsuccessful to contact him for further information on the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for expert systems.
11. In addition to full-text search capabilities, important documents should also be classified and searchable by pertinent metadata parameters, e.g., the Dublin Core, GILS Core, FGDC standard, etc.
12. Barr (1998) reports that 57 percent of Federal employees surveyed said they have "electronic access" to information needed to do their jobs. However, TSG (1998) cites an assertion by the Gartner Group that professionals spend 50 percent of their time looking for documents and only 5 to 15 percent of their time actually reading them. Frame (1994) avers that "between 50 and 65 percent of ... project budgets is dedicated to chasing paper" and that "[t]he importance of effective documentation cannot be overstated." (pp. 42 and 88) In the case of Federal agencies, effective documentation is also required by law, i.e., the Federal Records Act. (See http://www.fws.gov/laws/infolaw.html#FRA and Ambur, 1997, September.)
13. For further information on the Document Management Alliance (DMA), see Schneider (1998).
14. G-PEA requires the Office of Management and Budget to develop an implementation plan within 18 months and it requires agencies to begin to offer the public the option of submitting information by electronic means within 5 years. The threshold for application of the requirement is 50,000 submissions. So as a matter of legal technicality, many forms and other documents may be excluded. However, E-FOIA requires agencies to take reasonable steps to make records available in whatever form they are requested, and if three or more people request a record in electronic form, agencies are expected to make it available by such means. Therefore, it will be a matter of foot-dragging and hair-splitting if agencies fail to make all of their forms and document formats available by electronic means, as well as providing for the receipt of all documents from the public by electronic means. At least they should be expected to justify any failure to do so.
15. Annual Goal 4.1 of our FY 1999 GPRA plan encompasses the following objective for the NCTC in contributing toward workforce excellence:
17. Consistent with any reengineering effort, all needless steps should be removed from the process. In particular, employees should not be expected or required to learn how to convert WordPerfect documents to HTML, for example. Any necessary formatting conversions should be accomplished automatically in an agencywide EDMS/ERMS. Likewise, employees should only be expected to provide the metatada required to do their own particular jobs. Both records retention as well as public access requirements should be automatically met based upon the document metadata gathered in the routine course of productive, value-additive steps in the business process.
18. In recognizing AMS for technology leadership excellence, Government Executive magazine (1998) made the following observations about the NOP document management system:
Within USDA, staff used an electronic document management system to process the comments. That system eliminated the need to make three paper copies of each comment ... saving USDA $300,000 in copying costs ...
Similarly, USDA avoided the costs of setting up a reading room for the proposed rule by creating a virtual reading room on line. This also significantly reduced Freedom of Information Act requests.
19. Accompanying Malkin's (1998) memo were testimony of the General Accounting Office (GAO, 1998) and notes from the November 24 meeting of Department of the Interior regulatory affairs staff. Among the pertinent observations in GAO's testimony was:
20. Barr (1998) reports that only a quarter of surveyed Federal employees understand "how good performance is measured in your organization."
21. The General Services Administration's Center for Electronic Messaging (CEMT) is responsible for coordination of the U.S. federal Blue Pages, as well as the White Pages. (See Ambur, 1997, December.) However, the on-line search feature is not yet available (at http://bp.fed.gov/search.htm) and the Web-based E-forms application to facilitate the data collection/maintenance process is still under construction as well. New Zealand's Blue Pages are at: http://www.gwr.govt.nz/. Canada's are at: http://www.infocan.gc.ca/blue.html. Blue Pages for the Daytona Beach, Florida, area are at: http://www.daytona-fl.com/blue_pages/. 555-1212.com is building a Blue Pages site for all countries at: http://555-1212.com/blue_all.htm.
22. Ohara (1996) highlighted the findings of a report on the interoperability between GILS and the X.500 Green Pages. (See also http://www.fws.gov/laws/greenpgs.html.) An excellent summary of the relationship between X.500 and LDAP is available at: http://www.ema.org/html/pubs/mmv2n5/x500ldap.htm.
23. WebGov is in the development/pilot stage. For a brief report on the concept, see Harreld (1998).
24. Also implicit in public service is the need to provide sufficient metadata so that public records can be readily retrieved via pertinent parameters, and so that their quality and usefulness can be quickly assessed. (See Ambur, 1997, September.)
25. In terms of the required technological functions, information is supplied and managed in two broad categories - highly structured and relatively unstructured. The appropriate technology for highly structured data and for relatively unstructured information, respectively, is forms automation software (E-forms) and electronic document/records management systems (EDMS/ERMS) software. (See Ambur, 1997, May.)
26. Predating the explosion of the Internet, the Service's Correspondence/Surnaming Task Force recommended implementation of an agencywide EDMS. (Bender, 1994) Subsequently, the DMS Requirements Analysis Team set forth more detailed recommendations for piloting such a system. (Ambur, 1995)
27. Pursuant to the GRS-20 litigation, the deliberations of the Electronic Records Work Group (ERWG), and direction from the National Archivist, all Federal agencies are required to recraft their Records Schedules to account for the disposition of electronic records (E-records). In records management parlance, "disposition" has been taken to mean "destruction" or "archival" and such a focus may have been appropriate with respect to the treatment of records maintained on hard media, e.g., paper and microfilm. However, in the context of E-records, the capabilities of ERMSs, and the potentials of the Inter/extranet, the meaning of the term should be broadened to take into account "publication" (format), distribution (media), and access control (e.g., privacy) opportunities and requirements as well.
28. Ambur (1997, May) argues that three and only three software applications (programs) are required to manage all types of information, and that only two - E-forms and EDMS software - are required to manage all "business quality" information.
29. In query science, a tradeoff between "precision" and "recall" is assumed. "Precision" means that the query parameters are narrowed so as to exclude extraneous "hits". The tradeoff is that some relevant items may be missed. Conversely, greater "recall" entails broader search parameters, increasing the chance that all relevant items will be retrieved, albeit with a larger number of superfluous hits. The assumed tradeoff may be true as far as full-text queries are concerned, but it presents a false choice with respect to metadata-driven queries. Potentially, the linear addition of metadata elements can result in geometric improvements in precision with no loss of recall. Thus, a public-service orientation would seem to dictate the need for incremental economic analysis of the cost of gathering and maintaining various elements metadata, in relation to the potential benefits to be derived therefrom.