OMB winnows ideas for better e-gov

"Citizen-Centered E-Government: Developing the Action Plan"

The Bush administration has a selection of proposed ideas in hand for developing a more citizen- centric government, and its e-government task force is expected to pick 20 quick-hit initiatives in less than a month. Office of Management and Budget officials formed the task force in July to find a series of crossagency, high-impact initiatives that could be completed within two years. Led by Mark Forman, OMB associate director of information technology and e-government, the group interviewed agency officials and gathered more than 160 ideas from the public via e-mail.

The task force has now developed draft business cases for each of about 30 finalists, and will refine them so the President's Management Council can make a final decision at its Oct. 3 meeting, Forman said last week at the Interagency Resources Management Conference in Hershey, Pa.

The council will choose five initiatives in each of the four areas in the administration's e-government agenda—improving interaction between the government and citizens, government and business, federal and other government agencies, and internally within agencies.

At least four initiatives, one per area, should be funded using the $20 million President Bush requested in fiscal 2002 as the first part of a three-year, $100 million e-government fund, Forman said. OMB will administer the fund, but it will be kept at the General Services Administration, whose Office of Governmentwide Policy supports Forman's efforts.

In July, the House and Senate subcommittees that oversee the spending bills containing the OMB and GSA budgets cut the 2002 request to $5 million.

At that time, a House aide said lawmakers did not want to provide full funding in part because the White House "had tried to get [it] in the back door." Though the Senate agreed with the fund's goals, it approved only $5 million, which would "remain available through fiscal 2004," according to the subcommittee's report. OMB has been working with both committees since July to restore full funding. Forman said OMB officials feel "comfortable" that the money will be restored in the final bills.

"We may even end up with more than the $100 million we believe we should have for this fund," he said.

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