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Quintessential E-Government in Muncie, Indiana

BY Matthew Burton | Sunday, July 12 2009

According to legend, a man disguised as a pizza delivery boy used to shuttle secret communiques between the CIA's and NSA's respective headquarters, about 25 miles apart. This was before the two agencies' networks were linked in 1994, allowing them to switch to email. It's the archetypal example of how a simple technology can improve government, helping it work faster while saving money.

Twenty-five years later, Muncie, Indiana has done the equivalent. The Muncie fire department currently delivers messages to the chief's office via fire truck. About 20 times a day. The city estimates that each trip somehow costs $1500. Whether an accurate estimate or not, it is silly to use your firefighters as mail carriers. The fire department has discovered scanners, which will soon replace the fire trucks. Which is good, because the trucks are needed for other things.