Putnam sets IT agenda

New chairman vows aggressive e-gov oversight

When it comes to information technology and e-government oversight, there's a new House subcommittee chairman in town.

The House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee is a conglomeration of jurisdictions formerly ruled by the committee's top federal technology watchdogs, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and former Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.).

But with Davis now chairman of the full committee and Horn having retired at the end of his term in 2002, the nuts and bolts of e-government management oversight are in the hands of Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), the House's youngest subcommittee chairman at 28.

Putnam's agenda for the subcommittee stretches across many aspects of the federal IT and e-government arenas. "We do have an aggressive agenda, and I intend to provide vigorous oversight of the areas under the subcommittee's jurisdiction," he said March 13 at his first hearing as chairman.

The hearing tackled the big-picture question of how far the government has progressed with its e-government agenda and the 24 e-government initiatives that are the Bush administration's primary focus for interagency use of technology to improve government services (See "E-gov progress slow," Federal Computer Week, March 17.).

Witnesses agreed that, for now, the initiatives and the agenda as a whole are making progress. But Putnam is just as interested in following through on the E-Government Act of 2002, which is supposed to provide both guidance and funding for e-government efforts. Davis was intimately involved in crafting the act.

The subcommittee can help by pushing appropriators to stick to the $345 million the act authorized for interagency e-government work in the next four years, said Patricia McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of the Council for Excellence in Government.

The biggest hurdle to compliance with the E-Government Act, she said, is a lack of cross-government IT funding — money that agencies don't need to haggle over or take out of existing programs.

"That management fund is the glue money, if you will," McGinnis said.

Information security is also a top issue for the subcommittee, and Putnam plans to follow the tradition of oversight that Horn started by continuing his annual security score cards.

The subcommittee's March 25 hearing took a more detailed look at one of the hottest technology solutions the government is using today: data mining.

There are numerous privacy and policy questions that must be answered for high-profile federal data-mining applications, including the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness project and the Transportation Security Administration's proposed Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II. Both systems would search public databases for information on private individuals. The subcommittee plans to examine the issues surrounding those controversial systems at a hearing in May.

But with all of the information already collected by the government and much more information proposed to deal with homeland security, data mining offers many potential benefits for agencies and citizens, Putnam said.

For example, linking census and geospatial data stored at the federal, state and local levels already provides valuable information to individuals and companies, he said.

There is much more information at all government levels that could be used to help agencies provide more effective services, but the subcommittee is considering what possible regulations — if any — might be necessary to put limits on the use of such solutions.

"We need to be slow about coming in and overregulating," Davis said. "I think we are just at the very beginning of a revolution."

The subcommittee itself is involved in a data-mining initiative; it is one of the pilot test subjects for a new technology that links Webcasts of hearings, speeches and other appearances to text transcripts. This link will allow users to search for keywords and phrases in stored electronic records.

The e-Vital initiative led by the Social Security Administration is an example of how the government can use data mining to combine information from many sources, said Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget.

Although SSA is managing the initiative, e-Vital also involves information from other federal agencies and all the states, which collect life information such as birth and death records, he said. With all of that information going through a common process and available to all participants, benefits and other services will be available much faster and with fewer erroneous payments, he said.

Beyond the benefits, there are privacy concerns inherent in linking personal information that was separate before. And this is where the subcommittee will have to look further into the issues surrounding not only data mining, but also the general combining of information across government, Putnam said.

"We will be focusing very, very directly on this topic throughout the 108th Congress," he said. "It's an important issue and it holds the potential for tremendous progress...and frankly it raises some red flags."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.