OMB hands out e-gov funding

The Office of Management and Budget has selected five e-government initiatives for funding, shunning proposals it says duplicate existing services or re-create services that are commercially available.

Those selected for funding are projects that concentrate on expanding the foundation of electronic government. Three of the five projects are among the 24 e-government initiatives and the other two are related to e-government.

The five are to receive $4.15 million from a $5 million fund established to promote e-government. The remaining $850,000 is expected to be awarded to other projects by June, said Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for IT and E-Government.

The largest project is E-Authentication, which is to receive $2 million of a $5 million fund for innovative e-government projects.

E-Authentication is a General Services Administration project to develop ways to communicate securely with government agencies. It includes developing electronic signatures and access controls to enable businesses and citizens to send information and documents to government agencies with assurance that the contents remains private and unaltered.

A "benefits wizard" is to receive $900,000. The money is to develop a tool able to search across government agencies — federal, state and local — to determine which benefits individual users may be eligible for based on questionnaires they fill out.

About $750,000 goes to a business compliance site, which is to be a single location on the Internet that provides information about business laws and regulations imposed by an array of government agencies. The tool is intended to help business operators determine which regulations apply to them and how they can comply. It is also intended to put the process of applying for and receiving business permits online.

As the government presence online grows, managing content is an increasingly important function. OMB has approved spending $400,000 to develop a content management tool for FirstGov, the federal Internet portal.

Another $100,000 is earmarked for education and training of government employees in e-government management.

Forman said between five and 10 of the proposed projects were rejected because of "consolidation issues." To one extent or another, they were deemed to be overlapping.

Another group was passed over because they were available commercially. Online recruiting, for example, does not need to be done by the government because it is already widely done by the private sector, he said.

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