Success varying for e-gov initiatives

OMB E-Gov site

The 24 e-government initiatives are experiencing varying levels of success, with several falling behind schedule and struggling to meet the 18- to 24-month time frame, officials said March 13.

Almost all the initiatives have achieved at least the first goal of putting a tool or portal online, but that is the easy part, said Mark Forman, assistant director for IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget.

The more difficult steps laid out in the E-Government Strategy are to re-engineer back-end processes across the agencies involved and to deploy a full working solution. That is where the difficulties often begin, Forman said, testifying before the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

The initiatives that are trying to catch up ran into different problems, and OMB had to stop and reorganize a number of them, Forman said.

The Online Access for Loans initiative "took a step back" early in the process when officials decided to flesh out the business case that lays out the project management plan, goals and milestones, he said. The initiative should be moving forward quickly because now it has one of the best business cases among the initiatives, he said.

The One-Stop Business Compliance was ahead early and has a good tool online (www.businesslaw.gov), but now OMB is concerned that the project management plan needs more work, Forman said.

That not all the initiatives are on schedule comes as no surprise, said Joel Willemssen, managing director for information technology issues at the General Accounting Office.

Projects that are focused mainly on reorganization and improved presentation of information are much easier to accomplish than projects that provide transactions or true transformation of processes, he said. Some of the latter likely will not meet the goal of completion within 18 to 24 months, such as the Wireless Public Safety Interoperable Communications program, or Project SafeCom, which is still working on a concept of operations, he said.

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