E-gov execs call for new benchmarks

E-government initiatives site

Federal leaders need new metrics to measure the results of cross-agency e-government initiatives as they move to mission maturity, officials said March 24.

The goal for the e-government initiatives and the Bush administration's E-Government Strategy has always been to improve agencies' performance and service, but so far the focus largely has been on just getting the technology running, said Karen Evans, administrator for e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

Evans and other e-gov leaders were testifying before the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

As initiatives such as e-Rulemaking and USA Jobs move ahead, they need to look to different measurements to tell whether they are effective, Evans said.

"We've been very focused on the technical deployments and now we want to be focused on the results," she said.

For e-Rulemaking, initial metrics looked at the number of comments submitted through the Regulations.gov Web portal -- an important step, to be followed by the creation of an electronic docket system to handle the comments. But counting the numbers submitted over the Web instead of by e-mail or paper does not tell the whole story, said Kim Nelson, chief information officer at the Environmental Protection Agency, the lead agency on the initiative. Officials need to know if the regulatory process really is more transparent to citizens, and if agencies are receiving more relevant and informed comments, she said.

"What I think we need to do is re-evaluate what success means," Nelson said.

USAJobs faces a similar situation. Studies by the initiative's program office at the Office of Personnel Management show that there is much less frustration with the search for federal jobs and a clearer understanding of the application process, said Norman Enger, director of e-government at OPM. For one thing, there are now more than 700,000 resumes being submitted, which is a dramatic increase over previous numbers, he said.

Now the initiative team wants to see if those applicants are more qualified for the job searches they reply to and whether agencies are able to fill vacancies more quickly, Enger said.

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