Forman's team funds four projects

When Office of Management and Budget officials chose which of the 24 e-government initiatives would receive funding from the $5 million appropriated by Congress for fiscal 2002, they looked at the business cases the agencies submitted.

In the end the decision came down to one factor: The most mature projects got money.
“We attracted OMB’s funding because we already produced a product, and once they saw it, it became less of a theory and more of a real thing,” said Ed Hugler, deputy assistant secretary of Labor for operations and the de-partment’s e-government project leader.

The Labor Department’s GovBenefits portal, which officially launches today, will provide an online benefits screening tool for citizens. The project received $800,000 from the e-government fund.

The General Services Administration’s E-Authentication project and the Small Business Administration’s One-Stop Business Compliance project also received funding. GSA will spend its $2 million to build a prototype gateway, conduct independent verification and validation of the gateway and perform risk analyses of the e-government projects using it.

SBA received $740,000 to buy content management software, develop digital legal and regulatory guides for four areas, and build a business registry prototype.

OMB also distributed $400,000 to GSA to buy content management software for the FirstGov portal, and it will use $100,000 to educate agencies about change management.

GSA, which manages the e-government account, outlined the spending plan in March 25 letters to the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

Mark Forman, OMB’s associate director for IT and e-government, said by June that it would allot the remaining $900,000 to at least two other projects.

The $5 million is part of President Bush’s commitment of $100 million over three years to e-government. For fiscal 2003, the president requested $45 million.

It all helps

SBA’s project is not quite as far along as GovBenefits, but Jim Van Wert, SBA’s e-government project manager and the agency’s senior adviser for policy planning and
e-government, said the extra funding will make a significant difference in moving the initiative forward.

A content management software prototype will be tested in the next 30 to 45 days. SBA plans to spend $225,000 on the software.

“The goal is to have a powerful content management tool, and this is one approach we are testing,” Van Wert said. He said Active Navigation Inc. of San Francisco developed the application.

The four digital legal guides will help small businesses answer questions and find legal advice. SBA plans to spend $240,000 to build the four guides. Eventually, Van Wert said he expects to create 25 to 30 guides.

The agency will pilot the site’s business registry in the states of Washington and Illinois. Building the first version of the registry will cost about $275,000.

OMB will use the final $100,000 to train agencies in tactics to improve change management.
“We have said all along in the business cases, it is not IT but the change and process integration and process redesign that is most important,” Forman said.

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