Justice guides agencies through e-gov
- By Bryant Jordan
- Dec 18, 2000
"Legal Considerations in Designing and Implementing Electronic Processes:A Guide for Federal Agencies"
The Justice Department has drafted a report that guides federal agencies
through the legal issues they face in delivering services electronically.
Justice developed the guide
in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies
as part of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, Congress' mandate to
eliminate paper processes wherever possible by 2003.
The report notes that significant legal issues could arise if new electronic
processes do not fully meet the objectives of the paper systems they are
to replace. New processes could, for example, weaken an agency's position
in litigation involving recovering loans or grants or enforcing regulatory
requirements, the report states.
The report calls for officials to ask themselves a number of questions
as they convert agency services to electronic processes, including:
* Will important transaction data such as dates, content, identification
and the intent of parties be retained and available regardless of any
changes to computer hardware or software?
* Will the transactions hold up legally?
* Will agency use of electronic processes comply with existing laws
governing privacy, confidentiality, recordkeeping and accessibility to persons
Justice released the report on its Web site Dec. 14.
In a Nov. 22 memo to federal department leaders that accompanies the
report, Attorney General Janet Reno said GPEA is "an important tool" in
helping agencies move toward improved customer service and efficiencies
through information technology.
"At the same time, creating a more accessible and efficient government
requires us to maintain public confidence in the security and reliability
of the government's electronic transactions, processes and systems," she