E-gov projects likely to end up in a bell curve

E-gov projects likely to end up in a bell curve

Progress on the Office of Management and Budget’s 24 e-government projects likely will end up in a bell curve, according to Norman Lorentz, OMB's chief technology officer. A few projects will lead the way, most will come to fruition in the middle of OMB’s 18- to 24-month time frame, and a few will have to be adjusted or scrapped altogether.

Lorentz was a featured speaker at the Association for Federal Information Resources Management luncheon yesterday at FOSE 2002 in Washington and again today at an Adobe Systems Inc. breakfast.

In talking about one of the 24 projects, e-Recruitment, Lorentz called the government’s recruitment process broken, citing his own experience in applying for the OMB job he assumed in January.

The e-Recruitment project will adapt and scale up technologies already developed for job portals such as Monster.com, Lorentz said; "When it makes sense, we'll private-label external capabilities."

But not all of the projects can follow a commercial model, he said:
e-authentication, for instance, has no private-sector counterpart. "Initiative by initiative, we're going to take a consistent approach" to authenticating users who access e-government services, Lorentz said. "There's a dynamic tension between openness and security. We should be able to allow citizens access in any way they want—and measure what they want."

Lorentz said OMB will "take an open, plug-and-play approach in a consistent partnership with the private sector. We'll rebrand methods that work for government use. It gets you there faster, at lower cost and makes you marketplace-connected."

Lorentz predicted four to five of the 24 initiatives "will roll out quickly with some deliverables this calendar year."

He also joined a panel discussion yesterday on managing the cultural changes of e-government projects, along with John Condon, president for federal services of GDSS Inc. of Washington, Denise McKeehan of Unisys Corp. and Keith Thurston, acting deputy associate administrator in the General Services Administration's IT Office.

The panelists agreed that the best setting for cultural change is when there are both good and bad consequences to adapting or failing to adapt to change.

Lorentz said four levers to culture change are reward and recognition, training and education, communication, and compensation.

"Reward and recognition is the most powerful lever," he said. "It means a lot to be recognized by those higher up."

Compensation provides the biggest hammer, but managers have the least control over it, Lorentz added.

OMB is considering using both reward and recognition and compensation in the form of bonuses for the e-government projects that make the most progress, Lorentz said.

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