Forman on e-gov: ‘We are headed in the right direction’

Progress on the 25 Quicksilver e-government projects has varied, but at least one project that fell behind seems to be back on track, according to a senior administration official.

Mark Forman, the Office of Management Budget’s associate director for IT and e-government, told lawmakers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Management project is proceeding as expected and will launch its second iteration by the end of next month. The project had been behind schedule, and its recent improvement came after OMB changed project managers in October.

It was one of a handful of projects that Forman highlighted as making significant progress at a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Forman was one of four witnesses who testified on whether agencies are heading in the right direction with e-government at the first hearing of the House Government Reform subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

A few projects are ahead of schedule and are working on their third iterations, but others have lagged behind and required attention from federal overseers, Forman told chairman Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.).

“We are headed in the right direction,” Forman said. “There are number of these projects that we had to take some action—restructure the program and restructure the program office.”

By the end of April, FEMA will have added tools to its Distasterhelp.gov portal that will enable federal, state and local first responders to share disaster data, Forman said.

The Interior Department’s Recreation.gov initiative and the IRS’ Free File project were two other Quicksilver programs that Forman highlighted as being nearly complete. The IRS launched another piece of its Free File project earlier this month, allowing tax preparers to file employment taxes for businesses online.

When asked to give e-government a score on a scale of 1 to 10, Forman first referred back to the President’s Management Agenda scorecard rating system and gave OMB’s overall work a yellow and its progress a green. When Putnam pressed Forman for a more specific score, Forman said a yellow score is worth about a five and a green score is worth an eight or nine.

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