E-gov a low priority for Bush

The Bush administration has shown little desire to place e-government and

technology issues at the forefront of its agenda, a Capitol Hill lobbyist

told a national association representing the states' chief information officers.

Most evident is the administration's hesitancy to fulfill the federal

CIO post, said Shay Stautz, senior associate of Collins and Co., hired by

the National Association of State Information Resource Executives to advocate

its interests in Washington, D.C.

Stautz called the federal CIO position a litmus test of the administration's

priorities on e-government, and its hesitancy shows the administration is

"not as serious as we might have hoped."

Kentucky CIO Aldona Valicenti, who is NASIRE's president, said the states

want a federal CIO because it would create a focal point for better dialogue

and much more understanding between governments.

The administration is still in a transition phase, Stautz said, but

like the Reagan administration, the Bush administration is focusing only

on a handful of issues, such as the tax cut and defense.

Stautz said it's a little encouraging that President Bush proposed $20

million for an e-government fund for cross-governmental pilot programs in

his draft budget. But that's dwarfed by the proposal by Sen. Joe Lieberman

(D-Conn.) for a $200 million e-government fund.

Stautz also said politics have stymied the issue, playing a role in

discouraging Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who heads the Government Reform Committee's

Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee. Davis, a strong advocate

for creation of a federal technology czar, is turning his attention to procurement

and election reform policies for the time being, said Stautz.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Valicenti said,

is a good example of the federal government not communicating with the states.

With HIPAA, which was enacted to improve health insurance for citizens and

reduce administrative costs, she said the federal government didn't do a

good job of understanding of what states will be facing. They must meet

several federal deadlines to adopt electronic data interchange, privacy

and security policies.

She said NASIRE, which held its midyear conference May 7 in Austin,

Texas, would continue to testify and press Congress and the administration

to hire a federal CIO.

In other news, NASIRE has changed its name to NASCIO, the National Association

of State Chief Information Officers.

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