Agencies off GPEA pace

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Agencies' latest reports on their e-government efforts indicate that only 45 percent are expected to meet an October 2003 deadline for providing electronic interaction with the government.

Of the other 55 percent, just a few more than half "have a reasonable argument for not making the 2003 deadline" set by the 1999 Government Paperwork Elimination Act, said Mitchell Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"Upon evaluating specific agency plans for complying with GPEA, it is clear some agencies are not prepared," Daniels said, testifying before the House Government Reform Committee June 21.

Some agencies' plans, such as those from the Treasury Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, have garnered praise from OMB and the General Accounting Office. But others, such as the one from the Defense Department, simply listed e-government projects rather than creating a departmentwide strategy, said Joel Willemssen, managing director of information technology at the General Accounting Office.

OMB is responsible for overseeing agency compliance with GPEA, and officials issued increasingly specific guidance for agencies in 2000. But it is difficult to oversee compliance when many agencies are not providing the right information in their reports, Willemssen said.

"OMB may want to consider proposing more comprehensive agency status reporting," he said.

The Defense Department, under new leadership from Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Acting Chief Information Officer Linton Wells II, is moving forward with a departmentwide e-government and e-business strategy, John Osterholz, acting principal deputy CIO at DOD, told the committee.

Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-Idaho) questioned whether OMB needs some "teeth" from Congress to get the lagging agencies to pick up their feet. But Daniels said he believes OMB's link between management and budget is enough.

OMB will be training its personnel to better understand what to look for in agencies' GPEA reports and how to work with those agencies to improve their strategies, he said.

"We're going to make a determined run at the goal of strengthening the management side," he said.

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