Magazine article Government Finance Review

On the Web: A Wealth of Government Information

Magazine article Government Finance Review

On the Web: A Wealth of Government Information

Article excerpt

From federal ministries to the smallest towns, government offices in Canada are going on-line with World Wide Web home pages and services. While some governments are just beginning to merge onto the information highway, others offer a variety of information and services that are interest not only to residents and tourists but to other governments as well.

Intergovernmental Information Kiosk

The Intergovernmental On-line Information Kiosk (http://www.intergov.gc.ca), referred to as InterGov, is maintained by the Canadian Government On-line (CGOL) intergovernmental project on behalf of the Canadian federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. Designed to provide easy access to on-line information and services offered by governments, this site's links connect users with Web sites offered by Canadian governments at all levels.

InterGov's on-line library offers documents related to on-line activities in Canada, CGOL reports, and strategic documents for various jurisdictions. The on-line documents are indexed by title and by jurisdiction. Publications available on-line include the 1996 federal budget documents, a Nova Scotia information highway study, and a report from the "information highway secretariat" in New Brunswick.

A catalogue of government on-line services consists of a searchable database of technology-based public services offered throughout Canada. Services may be provided on Web sites, via facsimile or telephone, at electronic kiosks, and in several other formats. Users can search for on-line services by jurisdiction, target audience, type of service, or keyword. Subject-based searches also are possible, including agriculture and farming; business, economic, and finance; public works and utilities; and transportation. A search of the subject "government administration" yielded more than 100 services, including a land records integrated management system in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; electronic filing of tax returns and personal property registry systems in several provinces; and the automated customs and information service for Canada. When users select a service, they are transferred directly to the computer server providing it.

Another service offered by InterGov is the Virtual Conference Centre. Restricted to registered users of InterGov, secured virtual conference rooms and moderated mailing list discussions are available to government employees, officials, and elected members of any public organization in Canada, including departments, departmental crown corporations, board, commissions, and local government committees. This service, offered for a fee, simulates a meeting environment where face-to-face scheduled meetings are replaced by computer-based "discussions" that can be posted at any time between the starting date and ending date of the meeting. These virtual meetings are similar to newsgroups. (See the article "Using the Internet in Local Government Finance" on p. 46.)

Federal-level Web Sites

The main menu for Canada's general Web site (http://canada.gc.ca) - presented in French and English - offers information about Canada, an overview of the government, federal institutions and programs, and links to other governments. While there is far too much information to describe here, two sites of interest to public finance officers are described below.

Office of the Auditor General (http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca). This Web site provides information about the auditor general's office, publications, media releases, and career opportunities. Of particular interest to public officials are the on-line copies of the auditor general's yearly reports. Available in French and English, the chapters of the 1996 and 1995 reports include a briefing of the chapter's main points as well as the text of the chapter itself. Topics covered in the 1996 report include environmental stewardship, evaluation in the federal government, internal audit, reform of classification and job evaluation, rehabilitation programs for offenders, income tax avoidance, and veteran's health care. …

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