E-gov objectives largely unfulfilled

"Electronic Government: Initiatives Sponsored by the Office of Management and Budget Have Made Mixed Progress"

Less than half of the 91 original objectives for cross-agency e-government initiatives have been fully met, but agency leaders testifying before Congress expressed surprise at the progress they have made so far.

In its latest evaluation of the progress on the 25 initiatives, the General Accounting Office found that only two — Grants.gov and the Internal Revenue Service's Free File — have met all the objectives that agencies and the Office of Management and Budget set out in May 2002. Five others have achieved the majority of their objectives, but the other 18 initiatives have only partially met their objectives.

Three objectives no longer apply, but in total, the status on the 91 objectives breaks down into:

*33 fully or substantially achieved.

*38 partially achieved.

*17 no significant progress.

"Given that OMB's stated criteria in choosing these initiatives included their likelihood of deployment in 18 to 24 months, the substantial number of objectives that are still unmet or only partially met indicates that making progress on these initiatives is more challenging than OMB may have originally anticipated," said Linda Koontz, director of information management at GAO.

She was testifying March 24 before the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

However, leaders of the e-government initiatives said that at this point, they are further along than they thought they would be.

"I am shocked at how much progress we have made," said Kim Nelson, chief information officer at the Environmental Protection Agency, the lead agency on the e-Rulemaking initiative.

She pointed out that a number of the e-government initiatives are the first to attempt to deliver that type of consolidated service. "Many people here are doing this without a blueprint; there are no other footsteps to follow," she said.

Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), subcommittee chairman, also said that the current situation is encouraging. "I'm very pleased with where we are, the progress that has been made," he said.

Often, the key to success has been the people involved, not the processes being put in place to encourage cooperation and merging of services, said Martin Wagner, associate administrator of the General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy. The office oversees five of the initiatives and provides administrative support to OMB and the many governmentwide councils.

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