Think tank slams Bush’s e-gov efforts

Think tank slams Bush’s e-gov efforts

A Democratic think tank harshly criticized the Bush administration’s e-government effort, saying the administration “has failed to make a serious commitment” and e-government has made “at best, halting progress.”

In a report released today by the Progressive Policy Institute, Unsatisfactory Progress: The Bush Administration’s Performance on E-Government Initiatives, Robert Atkinson said that in the more than three years since President Bush took office, the United States has fallen to second place behind Canada in delivering e-government services to citizens. Atkinson is vice president of the institute and an unofficial adviser for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

“Of the 18 other nations ranked, 13 have made faster progress since 2001, and many are poised to pass the United States within the next year,” the report said.

The Office of Management and Budget did not return a reporter's calls for comment about the report.

Atkinson directed his criticism at the administration’s President’s Management Agenda scorecard and lack of green scores for e-government, lack of progress on meeting the goals of the 25 Quicksilver initiatives, poor funding support from Congress and slow progress in integrating terrorist watch lists.

“The administration’s support for e-government is all symbolic,” Atkinson said. “It is not a priority. Bush in his campaign said they support a governmentwide CIO and a $100 million fund. But the most they ever asked for e-government is $40 million and got just $5 million, and they were fighting [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman’s E-Government Act because they didn’t want a real CIO. They watered it down and watered it down until the Lieberman folks went with it.”

Atkinson suggested seven steps to improve federal e-government efforts:

  • Appoint a federal CIO

  • Provide funding for cross-agency e-government initiatives

  • Make an integrated Web portal where content is developed around the needs of citizens instead of a set of links

  • Integrate federal, state and local services into one portal, making it easier for citizens to find the information they need

  • Develop new e-government applications in the areas of clinical health trials, literacy training and white-collar crime reporting

  • Enhance e-democracy by improving Congress’ Thomas site, require agencies to Webcast public meetings and make it easier to find how members of Congress voted for specific bills

  • Conduct focus groups to find out what citizens want.

“The Bush record has not been all that good,” Atkinson said. “They talk a good game, but when it comes to really driving federal government reinvention through IT and e-government, they have fallen down.”

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