E-gov chief pushes teamwork

E-government chief Mark Forman told a gathering of government and industry executives today that sharing information is not enough to produce a true e-government for citizens.

He said that integration of information across agencies is the key and that working together is the way to get it done.

"One thing we've learned from homeland security is that we have to get together," Forman told the 16th annual Information Processing Interagency Conference meeting this week in Orlando, Fla. The theme of this year's conference is "Getting Connected."

Forman, the associate director for information technology and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, said that there are 22,000 federal Web sites and that a simple search on FirstGov often brings up a thousand unrelated topics.

"It's not sufficient to open a database to others," Forman said. "You have to figure out how the information is used."

Forman said many government agencies have experienced a data overload in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks — the information is there, but it's not in a usable form. And the job of e-government is to streamline the data and make it accessible in a "one-stop shop."

He said agencies still suffer from not wanting to share information and resources, and the culture of keeping money to themselves will have to change.

"We will have to figure out how to leverage duplicate investments," Forman said.

Forman made headlines last year by questioning whether the federal government is spending too much money on IT. He told Federal Computer Week that he does not expect to get more money in a fiscal 2002 supplemental bill.

"We asked for $45 billion, and we got $48 billion," he told FCW.

In fiscal 2003, the Bush administration is requesting $52 billion for IT.

Forman said, "We are spending more money in the IT budget to improve productivity."

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