The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Saturday, October 05, 2002
Electronic Government Services. US Ranked Fourth in Global Survey. In a follow up study by Darrell M. West of Brown University, from 2001 to 2002 most countries scored higher on e-government. The United States, once the leader in e-government, has been surpassed by Taiwan, South Korea and Canada, according to the second annual installment of an e-government study conducted by the Center for Public Policy at Brown University. The study examined 1,197 national-government Web sites in 198 countries. In order to see how the 198 nations ranked overall, the study's authors created a 0 to 100 point e-government index and applied it to each nation's websites based on the availability of contact information, publications, databases, portals, and number of online services. Four points were awarded to each website for the presence of each of the following features: phone contact information, addresses, publications, databases, links to other sites, audio clips, video clips, foreign language access, not having ads, not having premium fees, not having restricted areas, not having user fees, disability access, having privacy policies, security policies, having a portal connection, allowing digital signatures on transactions, an option to pay via credit cards, email contact information, search capabilities, areas to post comments, broadcasts of events, option for email updates, and option for website personalization. These features provided a maximum of 96 points for particular websites. Each site then qualified for a bonus of four points based on the number of online services executable on that site (1 point for one service, two points for two services, three points for three services, and four points for four or more services). Only 3 percent of government websites had four or more services. The e-government index therefore ran along a scale from 0 (having none of these features and no online services) to 100 (having all features plus at least four online services). Totals for each website within a country were averaged across all of that nation's websites to produce a 0 to 100 overall rating for that nation. The top country in our ranking is Taiwan at 72.5 percent. In other words, every website from Taiwan has nearly three-quarters of the features important for information availability, citizen access, portal access, and service delivery. Other nations that score well on e-government include South Korea (64.0 percent), Canada (61.1 percent), United States (60.1 percent), Chile (60.0 percent), Australia (58.3 percent), China (56.3 percent), Switzerland (55.4 percent), Great Britain (54.8 percent), and Singapore (53.5 percent). The report contains an Appendix listing e-government scores for each of the 198 countries, plus comparisons between 2001 and 2002. The full study is online at: (169)

Friday, October 04, 2002
Health Care. Health Insurance for Freelancers. Stephanie Strom wrote "Group health insurance offered to freelancers" for the October 2, 2002 issue of the New York Times. Free-agent workers, according to the article, now make up almost one third of the US labor force or about 41.8 million workers. The organization, Working Today, was initiated to offer health insurance freelance workers in New York City. The insurance costs an average of $255 per month. Since between one-quarter to one-third of workers do not get health insurance from their employers, there is a large potential market. The organization's website which contains a link to the news story is at: (168)

Thursday, October 03, 2002
Campaigns and Elections. Ad Watch. Minnesota's 2002 election campaign ads for US Senate and the Governor's race are analyzed on a regular basis online at: (167).

Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Technology: Automatic News Service. The search engine firm Google has introduced a computerized news service at: In the words of the site: "Google News is highly unusual in that it offers a news service compiled solely by computer algorithms without human intervention. Google employs no editors, managing editors, or executive editors." Google scans more than 4,000 news publications to build a rolling list of headlines based on what the computer determines to be the most relevant and current news. The site divides stories into eight categories including Entertainment, World, and Business, and refreshes the headlines every 10 to 15 minutes. This is one approach to helping readers sift through information overload and may be a harbinger of further “news agents” that help us do just that. The story in Time magazine is at:,8599,356152,00.html. (166)

Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Health and Human Services: Health Care Uninsured Rises. Robert Pear writing in the September 30, 2002 New York Times reported on a Census Bureau finding that the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 41.2 million for an increase of 1.4 million in one year. Much of the reduction in coverage was for employees of small businesses. The percentage of the population uninsured also rose, from 14.2 percent in 2000 to 14.6 percent in 2001. The number of children lacking health insurance leveled off at 11.7 percent of all children. States have not used all money available under the Children's Health Insurance Program. 1.2 billion dollars of CHIP money will revert unused to the federal treasury. The full article is at: (165)

Monday, September 30, 2002
Economics and Workforce: Minnesota Ranked as Highest in Share of Population Working. Mike Meyers writing in the September 29, 2002 Star Tribune described the results of a U.S. Department of Labor Survey on working populations of the states. In 2001, Minnesota had a greater share of the total population in the labor force than any other state, according to recently released statistics from the labor department. Overall participation in the labor force is more than 9 percent higher than the national average. Based on 2000 Census data, Minnesota ranked No. 1 among the states in high school attainment for those 25 and older with 89.5 percent of that group holding high school diplomas. Nationally, the rate was 81.6 percent. In sum, Minnesota has a well educated, hard working workforce. The full article may be found at: (164)

Sunday, September 29, 2002
Technology: Surveillance Cameras Proliferate in US. Dean E. Murphy wrote on the emerging “surveillance society” in the September 27, 2002 New York Times under the headline: “As security cameras sprout, someone’s always watching.” A market research firm in Connecticut that specializes in security, the J. P, Freeman Company, estimates that the digital video surveillance market is growing 15 percent a year, about four times as fast as the security industry as a whole, as companies seek better surveillance systems and images. Law enforcement officials almost everywhere have encouraged the trend. Videotaped images generally strengthen criminal cases and take a big load off the investigators trying to piece together a crime. Public attitudes about the cameras had changed and tended to be generational. Older audiences on the topic produce cries of outrage and complaints about the infringement of civil liberties. Younger audiences are far more accepting, having grown up with images of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles officers and reality television shows, like "Big Brother," that extol camera-driven voyeurism. The Sept. 11 attacks might also have created a sense that it is unpatriotic to oppose surveillance. Clearly there will be significant policy issues at the neighborhood level and beyond relating to surveillance now and well into the future. The full article may be found at: (163)