Clinton panel calls for e-gov office

The President's Information Technology Advisory Committee has issued a report

recommending establishing an Office of Electronic Government (OEG) within

the Office of Management and Budget that would report directly to the president

but also have close working ties with agency IT representatives on the CIO

Council.

This report follows up on President Clinton's December 1999 memorandums

calling for agencies to take certain steps to move to an electronic government.

It also comes on the heels of several bills in Congress and discussions

within agencies and the administration about the merits of putting in place

a federal CIO vs. enhancing the authority of OMB.

"The mission of this new office would be to promote innovative IT efforts

and policies across the federal government," wrote PITAC co-chairmen Raj

Reddy and Irving Wladawsky-Berger in a letter to President Clinton.

There are two bills in the House from Reps. Jim Turner (R-Texas) and

Tom Davis (R-Va.) focusing on the idea of a federal CIO. Rep. Stephen Horn

(R-Calif.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Government

Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee, will be holding a hearing

this week on those two bills, according to committee spokeswoman Bonnie

Heald.

Under the PITAC's recommendations, the e-government office would have

funds for research and development proj- ects across agency lines. But the

PITAC does not believe a federal CIO, also often called an "IT czar," would

be the appropriate way for the government to address the problem.

"Rather than having decision-making authority and control like an "information

technology czar,' the OEG should have a service mandate that enables agency

and cross-agency innovation through incentives and budget push-ups," the

report stated.

Other federal organizations, such as the CIO Council, will also be looking

at the actions on Capitol Hill and within the administration to move forward

with the concept, said W. Todd Grams, acting chief financial officer at

the Department of Veterans Affairs, at a government conference in Williamsburg,

Va., last week.

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