E-Gov Act signed into law

President Bush signed the E-Government Act of 2002 today, creating a law that will make it easier to get more government information and services online.

The new law will bring government fully into the electronic age, "giving taxpayers the same round-the-clock access to government that they have come to expect from the private sector," according to Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), co-author of the legislation.

The law establishes an Office of Electronic Government, headed by an administrator appointed by the president. It authorizes $345 million over four years for interagency government projects and establishes an online directory of federal Web sites.

"The idea behind this law is for the federal government to take full advantage of the Internet and other information technologies to improve its efficiency and to secure its electronic information," Lieberman said.

Paul Brubaker, an architect of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 that targeted federal IT management and cost overruns, said the new law is a beginning, but it is not a "panacea" for e-government.

"It's going to take a while," said Brubaker, who has started his own consulting company.

The measure also mandates a number of new directives, requiring regulatory agencies to conduct administrative rulemaking on the Internet and federal courts to post judicial opinions and other information online.

It also makes it easier for state and local governments to use federal contracting vehicles, and it backs share-in-savings contracts in which the government pays contractors out of savings from an efficient project.

The e-government law "reflects an invigorated commitment to applying information technology to improve service delivery, operations and information security," said Dave Marin, spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Va.) one of the bill's authors.

"Rep. Davis intends to oversee implementation of this legislation to make sure agencies are indeed committed to e-government and to make sure we really are confronting the challenges of making the transition to e-government meaningful and valuable," Marin said.

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