E-gov progress slow

OMB E-Gov site

Although a handful of the 24 e-government initiatives are on track, many are experiencing varying levels of success, with several falling behind schedule and struggling to meet the 18- to 24-month implementation time frame, officials said March 13.

Almost all of the initiatives have met the first goal of putting an application tool or portal online, but that is the easy part, according to Mark Forman, associate director for information technology and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget.

The tougher steps are re-engineering the back-end processes across the agencies involved and deploying a full working solution, he testified before the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

The initiatives playing catch-up ran into different problems, and OMB had to reorganize some of them, Forman said.

The fact that not all the initiatives are on schedule comes as no surprise, said Joel Willemssen, managing director for IT issues at the General Accounting Office.

GAO officials reviewed the initiatives late last year, and though "several of the projects have achieved tangible results, not all of them have made such progress," he said.

Projects focused mainly on improving the presentation of data are much easier to accomplish than those involving transactions or true process transformation, he said. Some of the latter will likely not be completed within the 18- to 24-month time frame, such as the wireless interoperability initiative, he said.

New subcommittee chairman Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) said he plans to keep a close eye on the initiatives' progress.

Patricia McGinnis, president of the Council for Excellence in Government, urged Putnam to also focus on the $45 million the Bush administration requested for the e-government fund in the fiscal 2004 budget, which Forman called important seed money for cross-agency collaboration.

"We need to develop and become comfortable with more collaborative models for identifying, funding and managing cross-agency initiatives," McGinnis said. "This is not a natural act."

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The state of e-gov

The Office of Management and Budget's Mark Forman provided progress reports on select e-government initiatives:

LOOKING GOOD

* IRS Free Filing — Complete; enhancements planned.

* Recreation.gov — Nearly complete; enhancements planned.

SHAPING UP

* Online Access for Loans (E-Loans) — Improved business case prepared.

* One-Stop Business Compliance — Good application, needs better management plan.

IN THE WORKS

* E-Payroll consolidation — Solicitation being prepared.

* E-Grants portal — Nine to 12 months away.

NEEDS MORE WORK

* SAFECOM wireless interoperability — Still conceptual.

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