Pacific Daily News

February 13, 2005
Section: Opinion
Page: 18A

Online access to GovGuam services could help cut expenses

By C.J. Urquico
Over the years, iCON Corporation has been at the forefront of the government of Guam's existence in the World Wide Web. From the smallest of agencies, such as the Guam Energy Office, to larger ones, like the Guam International Airport Authority, iCON has developed various Web sites that have brought the benefits of the online community to the people of Guam. We believe that further development of GovGuam online brings public service to the doorstep of Guam residents, who benefit through the availability of information and education, effective communication, convenience and an overall efficiency online.

Online access to government services will not only improve the quality of life for the people of Guam, but will also reduce government expenses. Government agencies that offer their public information through Internet media will reduce the need for print material, phone calls, faxes and letters, which will substantially save the public time and money. As an example, the Office of the Public Auditor has experienced the advantages of a successful Internet presence for a number of years. Utilizing iCON's comprehensive service, OPA communicates, through both e-mail and the Web, up-to-date information on audits that account for how GovGuam agencies and those entrusted to run them spend public money.

Furthermore, advanced Internet technologies could make transactions more convenient for both private and public sectors. Currently, Web sites of the Guam International Airport Authority, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority and the Guam Municipal Solid Waste Landfill extensively utilize downloadable formats of documents and forms. Businesses can review Request for Proposals online and download bid packets, saving both time and money for all involved. Such materials are conveniently at the fingertips of the Internet user. Downloading and printing is then at the expense of the inquiring individual rather than taxing the government's budget.

Further implementation of these Internet technologies brings about a world of exciting possibilities! Imagine a government of Guam portal listing individual agency Web sites, with robust search features that can provide information on any topic that the user requires.

Professionally developed online database systems will make government operations fast and effective. Online databases are flexibly utilized in a number of different ways, including directories for better communication, statistical analysis and historical archives. Large archives of important documents can be digitized for both research and for preservation. For example, iCON was instrumental in documenting informational files for the privatization of the Guam Telephone Authority Web site. For UOG's Water and Environmental Research Institute, literally thousands of pages of research documents were digitized, published online and organized with the help of a robust database.

Existing electronic financial transaction and Internet form technologies could mean an increase in speed and efficiency in paying bills or applying for various licenses and permits.

A government that can function and do business online is a government committed to efficient public service. The goal must be to embrace the rising tide of Internet technologies and place all government information and services for the benefit of the people that Guam's government serves. The people of Guam can't afford to be left behind.

C.J. Urquico is a senior Web developer for iCON Corporation, a Web development and online marketing company.