OMB nears approval of e-gov plans

OMB nears approval of e-gov plans

23 projects OK’d by council await final approval and funding

The Bush administration is two steps away from activating 23 cross-agency e-government projects that, together, represent a nearly $1 billion investment.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, must first give final approval and find money from the fiscal 2002 IT budget to fund the projects. It’s likely that agencies also will have to contribute from their budgets.

“This represents the first time since e-gov has been at the forefront that the federal government has selected its priorities on how to leverage multiagency efforts,” said Mark Forman, associate OMB director for IT and e-government.

The President’s Management Council, a group of 29 agency chief operating officers, approved the list of projects on Oct. 3 but has not publicly released it. GCN obtained a copy of the list last week.

It includes 21 projects that fall within four e-government segments outlined in the President’s Management Agenda: five to improve government-to-citizen communication, five to improve government-to-government processes, five to improve government-to-business communication, and six to improve internal effectiveness and efficiency.

Two others are business case studies that agencies can use to comply with the Clinger-Cohen Act and better manage resources, a source said.

OMB has given no indication of when final approval might come. “The next step is to put it through the budget process,” Forman said.

Some of the money would come from the $100 million e-gov purse, Forman said, whose strings he holds. “Some of it can [also] come from better use of agency IT investments,” he said.
Several of the projects on the list are already under way.

The Treasury, for example, would get more money for its EZ Tax Filing project, which helps citizens file taxes online. The Interior Department is already developing Recreation One Stop, connecting citizens to the country’s recreational sites.

The Health and Human Services Department would receive money for its electronic grants project, which improves communication between agencies and speeds the grant distribution process. Interior is developing a one-stop shop of geospatial information, which OMB has designated as a government-to-government initiative.

Two of the five projects to improve government-to-business communication, whose lead agencies have been identified, are an online rule-making project by the Transportation Department and a federal asset sales project to be created by the General Services Administration.

Online asset sales

The Office of Electronic Government at GSA’s Public Buildings Service developed a business plan to move the sale of federal assets online. GSA would improve electronic access to land and equipment sales. The plan requires a portal that would be a single point of entry for federal asset sales.

Also on the list are two Office of Personnel Management projects, both under the category of increasing internal effectiveness and efficiency.

OPM is planning to turn federal workers’ paper Official Personnel Files into electronic Official Employee Records, as part of a larger project to modernize systems. Whenever employees leave one agency for another, their file would go to the new agency automatically. OPM has a contract with American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., to design the Human Resources Data Network.

The original list of proposals compiled by Forman and his working groups started out in the hundreds. In July, a group of about 60 volunteers from various agencies, known as the Quicksilver team, whittled the list to 300.

Multiagency projects

The group went from agency to agency interviewing IT specialists to review proposals. A small steering group from the President’s Management Council selected 30 projects, and Forman and the management council culled them to 23.

OMB spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said the agency could not release the final list of projects until Daniels approves them and finds a way of integrating them into the budget.

Each initiative would benefit many agencies at once, Forman said. All the projects are designed to tie together systems or share information across agencies, with eliminating duplication being the most significant goal, he said.

“How many times do we need to buy the same application, the same capability?” Forman said. “Each of these initiatives represents this concept that I’ve been laying out, to unify and simplify.”

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