Case #1497.0 Building an Interagency Website

Publication Date: January 01, 1999
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It has become commonplace to think of using the World Wide Web as a way to seek out and to serve customers in the private sector. The growth and spread of the internet has, at the same time, raised the expectation that government, too, will reach the public through the use of web sites. But, in contrast to buying books or clothes online, information of use to a prospective customer of public services may not be concentrated in a single government source. This case describes the effort by officials of the U.S. federal government to build an interagency web site primarily aimed at small business owners. It describes the evolution of the site, from its public debut in 1995 with the proclamation of Vice President Al Gore that the U.S. Business Advisor would allow "one stop Internet access to every service and every bit of information that government provides to business" to the spring of 1998, when the future of the site was clouded and little was being done to maintain the interagency effort. This case focuses on the World Wide Web and is itself housed on a web site. It can be used both to raise questions about public sector use of new technologies: do they, for instance, suggest wholesale reorganization of government; should government Web sites provide online service or information only? It also raises, however, perennial questions about where incentives for cooperation across agencies lie in the public sector, absent a private-style profit motive.

Other Details

Case Author:
David Eddy Spicer
Faculty Lead:
Jane Fountain
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States