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E-gov Lessons from IRS' E-file

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By David Perera March 26, 2007

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This tax filing season more taxpayers are filing online through the IRS' e-file program. (For a recent Tech Insider item on the success of e-file, click here.) What's behind e-file's success is focusing on convincing users to adopt an innovative process, argues Stephen Holden, a former IRS executive now teaching at the information systems department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In his September 2006 report, "A Model for Increasing Adoptions: Lessons Learned from the IRS e-file Program,” Holden writes that successful innovation adoption involves four sequential steps: external factors; investing in innovation; promoting and advertising; and measuring impact. (view image).

A factor not essential to innovation adoption is cutting edge technology. Rather, Holden argues that creating an organization focused solely on the program helps lead to successful e-government programs. Overall, Holden lists five lessons learned from working on e-file:

• Create an organization focus.

• Develop collaborative partnerships with stakeholders.

• Invest in innovation.

• Shift from a “Field of Dreams [e.g., ‘build it and they will come’]” mentality of marketing to proactive outreach.

• Use program performance data to drive decisions.

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