E-gov won't get left behind

E-Government Task Force

E-government projects will not be left behind in budget debates as priorities and funding concerns turn toward homeland security, according to the Bush administration's top technology official.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many in government, industry and academia have come forward to address the role that technology can play in support of the new Office of Homeland Security. But there have also been questions about how the rest of the information technology initiatives will fare when put up against new priorities in the budget.

But agencies should not worry, according to Mark Forman, associate director of IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget.

Top officials in the White House already are restating the importance of e-government and its role in the general improvement of government performance through the president's management agenda, Forman told Federal Computer Week Oct. 23.

OMB is getting ready to release the list of 23 crossagency, high-impact e-government initiatives developed by an interagency task force led by Forman. Those initiatives cover projects under the management agenda's four e-government service improvement areas: government to citizen, government to business, government to government, and internal efficiency and effectiveness.

Some of those initiatives, and others under way in individual agencies, do not really relate to the new homeland security mission upon which government time and resources are now focused, Forman said. But "a lot of them are key priorities," he said.

At an Oct. 23 breakfast sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Bethesda, Md., chapter, Forman and the task force team leaders described several of the programs the task force is examining, even though OMB has not yet released the list.

The initiatives include developing a single portal to apply for and check the status of federal loans, providing security for electronic transactions with agencies, and several projects that foster information-sharing among agencies.

All of these address the general issue of better and faster delivery of government services, Forman said, adding that they also address the homeland security problem of "how do we accelerate response times to emergency situations."

When put forward in that light, many e-government initiatives will have a good chance to compete with other programs in the many budget discussions going on at agencies and in OMB right now, he said.

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