IAC to offer advice on e-gov governance

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IAC E-Gov SIG

The Industry Advisory Council will offer recommendations this summer to the Office of Management and Budget on how to face the governance challenges posed by cross-agency e-government efforts.

The IAC E-Government Shared Interest Group's Government Advisory Board approached the industry association asking for assistance in this area as the initiatives move toward full implementation, said Tricia Iveson, vice chairwoman of the shared interest group. She was speaking at the general interest meeting held by the group May 14.

Developing those recommendations will not be easy because every initiative has slightly different challenges.

Some already have a fairly extensive governance structure in place, such as the Grants.gov initiative for moving the federal grants process online, which has a full-fledged interagency executive board and a working board. That arrangement is proving to be effective as a way to develop strategies, determine funding, conduct outreach activities and other actions necessary to move the initiative forward, said Charles Havekost, program manager for the initiative at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The biggest problem at this point is getting the agencies involved to feel that the Grants.gov initiative is something they need and that will help them, instead of something they are being forced to participate in, he said.

Others, including those involved in the e-Rulemaking initiative, are working toward developing a formal structure. So far, the initiative leaders have been relying on cooperation, said Oscar Morales, program manager for e-rulemaking at the Environmental Protection Agency.

E-rulemaking leaders are forming an executive board of all of the chief information officers of the agencies involved in the initiative, but that came about mostly because the CIOs wondered what was happening when they got a letter requesting funding from EPA CIO Kim Nelson, he said.

Meanwhile, e-government leaders attending the meeting cited a common challenge: the culture change of thinking about common goals among agencies instead of unique goals, and the process and funding changes that go along with that.

Explaining that concept and getting everyone to believe in it has been a significant challenge, said Sara Hebert, the Transportation Security Administration's e-government program manager.

"We're supposed to solve the right business problems the first time around," and that cannot be done by the information technology officials within an agency, she said. The need and the process must be set by the business officials before the IT staff can come in.

"We need to look at issues from a strategic perspective," she said. "Processes must be in place so change is sustained; otherwise, we will shortchange the value of IT."

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