Lieberman and administration can compromise on e-government, aide says

Lieberman and administration can compromise on e-government, aide says

Mark Forman isn’t the federal CIO, but his appointment earlier this year shows that the Bush administration agrees with Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) that electronic government programs need strong leadership to succeed, said the chief author of the Lieberman’s E-Government Act of 2001.

Kevin Landy, majority counsel for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which Lieberman chairs, said Forman’s appointment as director of IT and e-government for the Office of Management and Budget shows that there is common ground on which Lieberman and 14 co-sponsors can agree with the administration.

Lieberman’s bill would create the position of federal CIO to oversee all government IT projects. By contrast, Bush favors using established positions within OMB to serve that function. Although the sides haven’t yet agreed on this or several other key issues, Landy said he sees reason for optimism.

“To me, the differences were not fundamental,” Landy said today at a meeting of the Industry Advisory Council of the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils. “They can be worked through and hammered out in committee.”

Another matter on which the sides are split is funding for e-government projects. The administration has called for $20 million this year and $100 million over three years to go to interagency e-government efforts, while Lieberman’s bill proposes $200 million a year for the next three years.

But Landy said the fact that both sides had proposed setting aside money for interagency projects was more important than the difference in the amounts.

“This vision is shared by the administration,” he said. “The president’s e-government fund is a little smaller, but if you agree on the idea, you can work out the amount.”

Lieberman’s staff is working with OMB, the General Accounting Office and other federal agencies to shape the bill, Landy said.

While the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have diverted much of Congress’ attention away from subjects such as e-government, Landy expressed optimism about the future of Lieberman’s bill.

“We’ve been making great progress,” he said. “There are still a couple of big issues that are going to require compromise, but I don't think these are unbridgeable.

“There’s broad agreement on the goals, and much to gain if we’re successful.”

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