Report sets e-gov measuring stick

Creating a Performance-Based Electronic Government

A consortium of performance organizations presented a baseline report Oct. 30 on agencies' e-government practices, and Office of Management and Budget officials agreed that it creates an important mark for measuring future progress.

The report, "Creating a Performance-Based Electronic Government," is the first of what will be an annual study, officials said. It highlights best practices that agencies have developed as they participate in the e-government initiatives led by the Bush administration and within their own agencies. It also outlines the areas agencies still need to improve, particularly the area of creating and using performance measurements.

"We found there were a lot of common problems and also common solutions," said Carl DeMaio, president of the Performance Institute, the lead organization within the consortium.

Each of the 10 common issues outlined in the report include recommendations for agencies and OMB. The second half of the report focuses entirely on detailed case studies from government agencies.

OMB also has seen improvement in agencies' movement toward e-government, and will likely use the report to help focus agencies during the fiscal 2003 implementation and fiscal 2004 budget development, said Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for information technology and e-government.

One positive step is that federal employees really want to improve their processes and "the change management issue is not as difficult as many people perceived it to be," Forman said.

But there is still a long way to go, Forman said. "I think that we aren't seeing still the results that we need to see, we aren't giving citizens e-government on their terms," he said.

Performance measures are a key way to make those results happen, by setting true transformational goals and defining how to attain those goals, he said.

Among the examples of best practices are the overall management practices used by the Labor Department on the GovBenefits.gov portal initiative and the concrete goals set by the Internal Revenue Service for its EZ Tax Filing initiative, DeMaio said.

The top recommendation for the coming year, however, is for agencies and OMB to make mission-based performance measurement a basic part of IT and e-government management, he said. But it must be done carefully and intelligently if measurements are expected to actually help, he said.

"Not everything that needs to get done needs to be measured," he said.

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