E-gov selection process found to be flawed

During the selection of the Bush administration's 24 e-government initiatives, the Office of Management and Budget did not consider how at least half of the projects would impact the customer, a new report from the General Accounting Office said.

In the selection of the 24 initiatives, OMB used a streamlined process to select 34 projects from 350 proposals. To do that, OMB's e-government task force developed abbreviated, "mini" business cases for the 34 projects. The President's Management Council approved the final 24 initiatives in October, less than two months after the process was started.

Those "mini" plans contained "at least some of the key information" that GAO determined was necessary for OMB to select and oversee the e-government initiatives. But the report notes that OMB did not collect complete business case data.

"OMB did not have all the information needed to fully monitor progress and development of the initiatives," according to the GAO report, "Selection and Implementation of the Office of Management and Budget's 24 Initiatives."

The GAO review was conducted at the request of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the author of the recently signed E-Government Act.

"It troubles me that OMB decided upon its signature e-government initiatives without considering the very factors that it has identified as essential to successful e-government," Lieberman said in a statement.

"Especially now that the E-Government Act has passed, I hope that OMB will evaluate its programs more carefully, and consult closely with Congress, to ensure that its initiatives realize e-government's true potential," he said.

GAO found that fewer than half of the initiatives business cases addressed collaboration and customer focus, "despite the importance of these topics to OMB's e-government strategy," the report says.

Furthermore, only nine of the initiatives had identified a strategy for obtaining funding.

In addition, the accuracy of the estimated costs in the funding plans were questionable, GAO determined. Since May 2002, estimated costs for 12 of the initiatives have changed significantly, by more than 30 percent.

OMB officials were not immediately available for comment.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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