Progress on e-government moves slowly

The departments of Education and Veterans Affairs had the biggest jumps in their overall progress on e-government since November, according to the latest Office of Management and Budget grades on the President’s Management Agenda.

Both agencies moved from red to yellow, joining nine others, for their work in e-government. No agency dropped a grade under e-government.

OMB officials today discussed the agencies’ progress toward all five agenda items during a press briefing.

The administration releases a scorecard every quarter and these changes are compared to the last rating OMB handed out in November.

“President Bush has insisted that we and each of his appointees take equally seriously the job of making government run better, serve citizens more effectively and leave it in better shape than we have found it,” said Mitchell E. Daniels, OMB director. “This is a most unnatural act particularly for the political appointees of administration who often find the problems, the waste, the inefficiency too daunting to tackle and are easily consumed by other agenda items.”

OMB gave 27 agencies red, yellow or green scores for their efforts to meet the goals of five agenda items: human capital, competitive sourcing, financial management, e-government and budget and performance integration.

Green means an agency has met all of OMB’s standards; yellow means it has met some of the criteria; and red means it has serious problems. OMB also graded agencies’ progress in meeting the goals.

The National Science Foundation continued to receive the only green grade for its overall e-government work and 14 agencies still were in the red.

Interior, NASA, Social Security Administration and Veterans improved to green from yellow on their progress toward getting to green overall. The State Department also improved, to yellow from red. Overall, 18 agencies received green grades for their progress and seven received yellow. Homeland Security Department did not receive any grades for their progress on meeting the agenda items.

Mark Forman, OMB associate director for e-government and IT, said agencies that earned yellow or red scores for their overall e-government did so because they submitted business cases for their IT projects that were deficient in at least two of three areas: security, project management or outlining how the IT project relates to its mission.

“Certain departments that show up as yellow or red or status or yellow on progress, they need help in closing the gap of needing project managers or solutions architects,” Forman said. “We told them we would support them through the CIO Council or OMB works on E-Training project. We want to make sure people get trained. We will not release the funds to a project without a world class project manager.”

Agencies overall made limited progress in getting to green scorecard. Two agencies improved to yellow in financial performance and budget and performance integration, while one agency reached yellow in the Human Capital area. NSF received the only other green for its work in financial performance.

All agencies remain in the red for competitive sourcing, even though NASA met OMB’s goal of competing at least 15 percent of all commercial jobs.

Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said NASA did not move to yellow or green because it did not compete those positions. It used the direct conversion method, which lets agencies go to contract without competition if there are 10 or fewer positions involved.

The scorecard will be released in the president’s fiscal 2004 budget request Monday.

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