OMB’s Evans will focus on leadership

Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s new administrator of e-government and IT, yesterday stepped out of the large shadow of Mark Forman by promising to take a different tack than her predecessor.

Evans, who came to OMB earlier this month after spending 18 months as the CIO of the Energy Department, said she wants to lead agencies in building consensus on the IT management practices Forman instituted.

“I’m not the boss; this is about leadership and partnership, so we can move forward on e-government,” Evans said at a press briefing. “I understand what the difficulties are in what we are trying to accomplish with e-government and the Federal Enterprise Architecture. And I know the effect these things have on agencies and their leaders.”

Evans said her new position, in some ways, is similar to her role as vice chairwoman of the CIO Council. In that post she had to lead agencies as they worked through issues relevant to the CIOs. She still is doing that, but from a different perspective.

“My plans are to continue to drive toward the e-government goals and continue to work on the Federal Enterprise Architecture and agency EAs,” she said. “I think the initiatives will pick up momentum because everyone is focused on results.”

Evans outlined how she plans to tackle the ongoing e-government challenges:

  • Widespread communication about e-government and the Federal Enterprise Architecture to agencies, Congress, state and local governments, and citizens

  • Getting continued commitment from agency leaders to focus on citizens

  • Continuing to cooperate with industry.

  • “The success of the government depends on agencies working as a team across traditional boundaries,” Evans said. “We need to continue to focus on the citizen rather than the agency’s individual needs.”

    Evans said getting each agency to focus on security, privacy and the planning, implementation and evaluation of agency IT investments will remain a priority. She added that finishing the migration of the 25 e-government projects is important.

    “The solutions from the e-government projects must become a part of the way the government does business every day,” she said. “The e-government initiatives developed the framework for how the government will invest in IT in the future.”

    One area where OMB must improve is in its communication with Congress about the benefits of e-government and the need for an e-government fund, said Clay Johnson, OMB deputy director for management.

    For the third straight year, lawmakers will not fully fund the president’s request for a $45 million e-government account. The Senate allocated $5 million and the House $1 million in the Treasury, Transportation and General Government appropriations bill.

    “One of many things Karen will do is communicate more with Congress,” Johnson said. “We haven’t been persuasive enough, and it hasn’t been a big enough priority for us to fully engage Congress on it.”

    Evans said agencies will continue to rely on the pass-the-hat method of funding these projects.

    “In fiscal 2003, 94 percent of these projects were funded by cross-agency collaboration,” she said.

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