OMB promotes shared funding to build e-gov

Administration finishes agency management agenda reviews

By the end of the month, agency leaders of the Office of Management and Budget’s 24 e-government initiatives will know how much money they have in their wallets and how many skilled workers they’ll have on board.

OMB this week planned to finalize the funding and resource allocation strategy for the Quicksilver projects, said Mark Forman, OMB’s associate director for IT and e-government.

OMB officials met with project leaders late last month to discuss funding strategies. Forman asked them for a refined cost estimate and sent out a call for budget data to see how much money agencies are spending on the projects.

Forman said the strategy likely will be far different from the “pass-the-hat” approach discussed early on.

“Managers said pass-the-hat was the easiest way to deal with funding issues, but we said in the long run, pass-the-hat will be too difficult so they should look again,” Forman said. “We prefer agencies take the shared-build approach.”

The shared-build tactic asks agencies to provide whatever resources they already have—money, personnel or systems—and see how it fits into the project, he said.

“There is a lot of openness to this process, and it will take some work with project partners,” Forman said. “We are not asking them to reinvent the wheel, just take a look at what they have and bring it to the table. This is a good way to move forward fast.”

The CIO Council requested the development of a funding strategy in May, Forman added.

Finishing the component architecture was a key to developing the funding strategy because it clarified what existing applications or systems could fit into the project, Forman said.

Most of the projects still are on schedule to meet their milestones, he said. In fact, Forman expects 12 to 15 projects to have their first phases finished by the end of the summer. Phase one for most projects includes implementing an integrator tool such as the one used by to combine into one portal information on 55 different benefit programs.

“The time lines have been accelerated because of the advances in technology,” Forman said. “The use of technologies such as Web services and Universal Modeling Language are moving quickly and helping us stay on schedule.”

The Interior Department will add improvements in the second phase of its Recreation One-Stop portal, Forman said. He also expects the Office of Personnel Management’s E-Training and E-Recruitment projects to have completed the first phase, as well as the General Services Administration’s E-Authentication and the Treasury Department’s EZ Tax Filing initiatives.

Forman also said OMB this month would release its midyear reviews of how agencies are meeting the goals of the President’s Management Agenda, which includes an e-government section. He said the reviews will include the same red, yellow and green light ratings as in the fiscal 2003 budget report to assess the maturity of e-government efforts.

The evaluations will include agency progress toward getting to green and their current status. The progress reports will be the telling factor, Forman added.

It’s not easy being green

“If their progress plans are in the red, they have some real issues that need to be looked at,” Forman said. “It is too early for agencies really to get to green, but in the e-government section some could be pretty close by the end of the calendar year.”

For agencies to get to green, Forman said they have to be involved in three of four e-government portfolio areas—government-to-citizen, government-to-business, government-to-government, and internal efficiency and effectiveness—and participate in Interior’s Geospatial Information One-Stop project or the Health and Human Service Department’s E-Grants project.

“We are seeing a snowballing effect, and it is growing,” Forman said. “Clearly there has been a mind shift. A lot more people have a vision and are looking at innovation to leverage technology to do things better and focus on the citizen.”

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