OMB clarifies e-gov guidance

The Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance designed to help

agency chief information officers achieve their electronic government goals.

An OMB memo issued late last month addresses how to implement the Government

Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA). Under GPEA, agencies must enable citizens

to interact with them electronically whenever possible by October 2003.

OMB first issued guidance on GPEA in April, when it asked each agency

to submit plans by Oct. 31, 2000. The new memo from John Spotila, director

of the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, outlines the exact

information agencies must include and the goals they should address.

"This was really an effort on our part to try to respond to some requests...for

more specific practical guidance as to the type of reports that we were

expecting to get at the end of October," Spotila said.

Agencies are re-examining how they perform their missions as they make

systems and transactions available to the public electronically. Part of

the OMB guidance requires agencies to make sure they include in their GPEA

plans how they are updating their business processes. That includes automating

groups of transactions that serve a common customer, both within an agency

and across agencies.

The new memo should make it easier for agencies to initiate their plans

for OMB, especially as they organize the services offered to the public

by their agency's different offices, said Tony Trenkle, director of electronic

services at the Social Security Administration.

"I think it provides us with better guidance," he said. "It seems pretty

straightforward to me, but this cuts across business lines in agencies,

so it depends on how well they are set up for this. It's not really just

a CIO function; it gets into every level of the business."

Agencies should make sure to include any additional resources they believe

will be necessary to implement the changes in their budget request, and

they should tie the needs and the plan into that request, Spotila wrote.

Agency reports under the Government Performance and Results Act should also

address progress in implementing GPEA and e-government.

There will be continual changes and improvements made up to and beyond

the October 2003 deadline, Spotila said.

The Social Security Administration is working with OMB and the General

Services Administration to serve as a model for GPEA plans. "We're probably

far ahead of other agencies since we recognized early on that this would

have a big impact on us," Trenkle said. And OMB wants to be able to draw

on experiences from agencies such as SSA so agencies can share their GPEA

best practices, Spotila said.

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