OMB's Clay Johnson predicts e-government's future

By the time the Bush administration is out of office in 2008, all the 25 original E-Government initiatives should be fully implemented.

That is one White House’s goals for the President’s Management Agenda over its last 2 1/2 years, according to Clay Johnson, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management.

“We have demonstrated we can do these things over the past few years, so we have to continue to focus on performance,” Johnson said earlier this week at the 8th annual Government Performance Summit in Washington sponsored by The Performance Institute of Arlington, Va. “We have the ability to set targets and move to them. We couldn’t do that 10 years ago.”

Additionally, Johnson said he expects the public to be using 80 percent to 90 percent of the 25 Quicksilver projects to their full capabilities by 2008.

He also said agencies will fully implement all nine of OMB’s Lines of Business Consolidation initiatives—budget formulation, case management, federal health architecture, financial management, human resources management, geospatial, grants management, IT infrastructure and IT security—and demonstrate high level of services for lower costs.

Besides e-government, the administration expects that Congress will pass some sort of civil service modernization, including pay-for-performance, for every agency, and that at least 22 Chief Financial Officer Act agencies will have unqualified financial audits. He also said the administration expects to continue to show savings through competitive sourcing competitions, where agencies compete inherently commercial positions with the private sector.

Johnson added that the White House expects to reduce improper payments by $20 billion and dispose of at least $6 billion in unused real property by 2008.

To accomplish many of these tasks, especially e-government and competitive sourcing, Johnson admitted that they need to do a better job educating lawmakers.

“It is a mystery to me why we get push-back on the Hill with e-government,” Johnson said. “Their comprehension is limited. They think these are OMB pet projects we push on agencies, and the projects have no value to citizens. They are dumbfounded when I told them what it really it.”

He added that OMB has not done a good enough job communicating why these initiatives are worthwhile.

Of course, OMB has blamed poor communication for the poor reception e-government has received on the Hill for almost five years, and things don’t seem to be getting better in the short term. Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for IT and e-government, said recently that the recent mandated report on e-government would help improve lawmakers’ understanding about these projects.

OMB will see how the report goes over as Congress weighs in on the fiscal 2007 budget request this summer.

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