Internet Technology and eGovernment (PBAF 598)

Spring Quarter 2008


Course Description  Instructor  Required Readings  Course Schedule  Assignments  Grading Policy  

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the ways in which internet technologies are affecting how people interact with government, and how governments, in turn, are using and managing these technologies to (hopefully) better provide information and services to the public. Course content is divided into three main themes, and begins with an overview of development techniques and assessment methods for public web sites and on-line applications. We will then examine key policy issues relevant to implementation of e-government programs, as well as to the broader use of information technology in democratic societies. Finally, you will have a chance to explore the skills and concepts needed to effectively manage e-government projects and programs. Given the nature of the class, we use a variety of internet tools to help us accomplish this, including blogs, RSS feeds, and virtual technologies, such as Second Life.

Learning Objectives:


David Tetta, M.P.A., is a senior policy adviser and information systems specialist with the Environmental Protection Agency. He has more than 29 years experience in environmental management programs, including air, water, hazardous waste and Superfund operations. Mr. Tetta is currently involved in a variety of strategic planning and information technology issues, including coordination of e-government activities, for the EPA's office in Seattle. He has been teaching courses in environmental policy and in e-Government at the University of Washington since 2001, and received a Teaching Excellence award in the field of Science and Engineering in 2006 from UWEO for his work in the environmental policy area. Mr. Tetta has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.P.A. in Public Affairs.

Required Readings

The class web site at: provides readings for each week under the ”Internet Reference Sites” link. Those are briefly listed in the schedule shown below. Students are required to read the home pages or full pdf documents on each of the sites listed for a particular session, and are encouraged to explore the links within those pages for more information.

In addition, the following text is optional reading, but will help you get more out of the class:

Garson, G. David. Public Information Technology and E-Governance: Managing the Virtual State. Boston: Jones & Bartlett. 2006.

Course Schedule





Week1 – April 3

 Course Overview

  • Explanations of Sessions/Class Introductions
  • Discussion of Course Reference Sites
  • Overview of trends driving the development of e-government/e-commerce
  • Discussion of Web Site Evaluation Assignment

Required Readings:

Week 2 –
April 10

Web Site Design and Web Site Evaluation

  • Citizen Centric Web Design
  • Involving stakeholders in e-government site development
  • Techniques for evaluating web sites

Guest Speaker: Bruce Blood, Web Manager, City of Seattle

Required Readings:

Week 3 – April 17

Internet and eGovernment Policy Issues

  • eDemocracy
    • Government efforts to encourage citizen participation
    • Blogging and internet campaigns
  • Privacy and Security Isssues
    • Information security management
    • Computer surveillance/Data mining
  • Digital Divide

Guest Speaker: Kirk Bailey, Chief Information Security Officer, University of Washington

Required Readings:

  • See full list of readings on class web site. Students should pick from one of the policy categories as required readings. Readings in other categories are optional.

Week 4 –April 24

 eGov Best Practices and Business Case Development

  • Washington ORA on-line permitting
  • eGov Business Case Concepts
    • Identifying relevant criteria/process considerations
    • Cost-Benefit principles for IT projects
    • Tracking performance of e-gov sites

Guest Speaker: John Backman, Executive Director, eCityGov Alliance

Required Readings:

Week 5 –May 1

Future Directions for eGovernment

  • Government web sites and Web 2.0 technologies

Guest Speaker: TBD

Student Presentations


Student/Team Presentations of Class Projects



Class attendance and participation in discussions are a significant part of the work in this course. In addition, you will be completing a course project, either individually or in a group. Options for the course project are listed below. We will also set aside some time during week 1 to discuss other ideas you may have.

Course Project Option A – Web Site Evaluation.
Evaluate a set of government web sites against a self-developed set of criteria, taking into account current practices and methods for evaluating web sites. For this assignment, you should develop four to five evaluation criteria and apply them to each of the web sites you review. There are many different ways to evaluate web sites, so the challenge for you will be to develop some objective criteria, develop an evaluation process, and then carry that out for a given set of web sites that interests your group. You should come up your a methodology and criteria together. Each person should then review and score the sites separately. When reviewing the sites, think of the criteria; jot some notes, and consider assigning a number (a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, for example). Once each person is finished, you will want to get together again, compare notes, and prepare your presentation. Don’t just add the scores, but discuss your rankings and why you think the sites are good. In the end, your evaluation may have some qualitative aspects as well, particularly when you want to say what made a given site rise to the top. Web references to help you, from the list of class readings, are given below. You will be giving a 15-20 minute presentation of your evaluation during Week 5. Examples of presentations already done are located on the "Model Student Presentations" link of the class web site.


Center for Digital Government > Best of the Web – lot’s of good ideas for potential web sites to evaluate here. There are both overall sites to look at, as well as specific types of applications and projects. You should explore the links on the right side of the page as well for potential ideas from winners in previous years.

Brown University > 2007 State/Federal e-Government Survey– This link will help you with ideas for criteria to use in evaluating government web sites. But don’t feel limited to the criteria contained here; you are free to choose from a variety of other possible criteria, as long as you can address the issue of objectivity in your presentation and paper.

Course Project Option B : Blog/Wiki:
Social networks, blogs and other "web 2.0" applications are a now significant component of the on-line world, and this option allows you to explore issues relevant to e-goverrnment and the internet, as well as to get you better aquanted with these technologies, if you are not already. For this option you will be required to maintain a blog or wiki site. The blog/wiki should focus on the various policy areas covered in this class, other current events related to e-government/governance. Your own commentary and analyses are the key component to this. However, you may choose to link to other articles and web sites to support your ideas or to aid in the overall quality and presentation of your blog site. A minimum of ten posts are required during the class, or roughly two posts per week. Posts do not have to be lengthy. Three or four paragraph posts, well-written, that reflect your own ideas and thoughts, will be fine for the purposes of this assignment.

We will discuss software/web sites you can use for your blog (for instance, or during week 1. 

Course Project Option C – eGovernment Business Case Development:
For this option, you will be working in a group to propose a concept for specific government service that could be delivered via the internet, and develop a business case for this project or idea.
Some ways to get started in developing a project proposal:


Grading Policy

Grading in on a credit/no credit basis and is based on class participation and completion of the course project.