Voting for CRM
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This month's cover feature, "Power to the People," looks at some of the first steps being taken by government agencies to apply CRM principles and technology to better serve their customers--the public.

You thought your company had problems implementing CRM? Consider that the local, state and federal governments are faced with almost unimaginably vast collections of legacy data to be integrated and interdepartmental rivalries that make those in most companies look like playground squabbles. Plus, one year out of four, all the executives and the board of directors pretty much forget about running the "company" and spend all their time making speeches to the shareholders in hopes of getting rehired--er, elected--for another four years.

The biggest obstacle, the analysts tell us, is the silo mentality that grips government. There's little movement to share information between departments and agencies, and rarely much direction from the top to do so. Interestingly, while privacy concerns are often cited as the reason for keeping those silos in place, Forrester Researchs' government expert, Joel Goggin, thinks that's just an excuse by politicians who are daunted by the task of cutting through red tape to devise a system that will better serve their constituents.

Yet, here and there, it's working. Washington state has become a model for the rest of the country, making it possible for residents to go online to take care of many common tasks like filing taxes and renewing vehicle registration. Other states are sitting up and taking notice. And elsewhere, within their silos, individual agencies from the IRS to the Coast Guard are using CRM-like technologies to improve service to their "customers."

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