OMB dishes out $2.2 million of e-gov fund

The Office of Management and Budget is doling out $2.2 million of its remaining $4.5 million e-government fund in fiscal 2003 funds to support one old initiative and six new ones.

The General Services Administration, which manages the money for OMB, sent a letter today to the Senate and House Appropriations committees outlining the plans. OMB still has $2.3 million in the fund it can tap this year.

OMB in May allocated $470,000 of the $5 million fund to Touchstone Consulting Inc. of Washington to analyze cross-agency collaboration opportunities along six lines of business: financial management, human resources, criminal investigations and public-health monitoring, monetary benefits, and data and statistics.

As Touchstone recommended, OMB has pared down the list to four areas for which agencies will be able to submit cross-agency business cases and assigned lead agencies: financial management by OMB, human resources by the Office of Personnel Management, criminal investigations by the Justice Department and public-health monitoring by the Health and Human Services Department.

The four agencies will divvy up $600,000 to do follow-up analyses to the Touchstone review and recommend areas for consolidation.

For the monetary benefits area, the Social Benefits Administration will develop a plan for creating a benefits payment system. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau will look at negotiating enterprise licenses for data and statistical software.

OMB has earmarked the other $1.6 million for the Small Business Administration’s Business Gateway project, formerly known as Business Compliance One-Stop.

SBA received $740,000 last year from the e-government fund. The agency—working with the IRS, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—used the money to create online tools to help small businesses meet federal mandates.

For example, SBA and the IRS launched a portal for businesses to apply for federal employer identification numbers, said Jim VanWert, Business Gateway project manager.

With the new money, Van Wert said, SBA will focus on ways to ease the reporting burden on small businesses, possibly through a centralized repository of data stripped from online forms businesses submit. That way when a company went to submit new information, the new forms would already include previously provided material. Alternately, the businesses might maintain the information in some format and be able to autofill some elements of the online forms.

The agency also plans to create industry-specific portals for five business areas: trucking, mining, chemical, food and health care.

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