White House fact sheet tries to address PMA criticisms

The White House is trying to answer critics of the President’s Management Agenda by dispelling some “myths” in a fact sheet.

Some naysayers, especially from Congress, claim that e-government doesn’t save any money. The administration, however, maintains that it does and points to the Labor Department’s use of the E-Travel initiative. Officials said Labor has reduced the amount spent on travel vouchers to $24.75 from $62.59.

The administration also points to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s migration to the Treasury Department’s human resources system. HUD estimates it would save $27 million over 10 years.

The fact sheet, released last week, also tries to address the “myths” in other PMA areas, including human resources management, competitive sourcing, budget and performance integration and the Performance Rating Assessment Tool.

The White House’s management agenda has come under increasing criticism by Congress and the federal employees unions. Lawmakers have come out against the PART tool. The House’s version of the Transportation, Treasury, HUD fiscal 2007 spending bill said “[t]he committee strongly encourages the administration to use a meaningful system of evaluation to justify proposed program funding levels, as long as the basis for the evaluations will also be shared with the committee. The committee finds little use for a budget justification, which does not reveal specific details of the measurable indicators and standards used to evaluate a program's performance, relevance or adherence to underlying authorization statute.”

E-government also has come under increasing scrutiny. A number of spending bills have provisions restricting agency funding of these 25 initiatives.

So officials are using this fact sheet to help address these and other criticisms.

Under e-government, some believe that the initiatives shut down perfectly good IT systems in favor of inferior ones.

The White House contends systems that serve only one agency may not serve the citizen well enough.

“The focus has to be on citizens — our customers — not the agency,” the fact sheet said. “Citizens’ access to government information and services has been improved through use of single sources for all government information services.”

The third “myth” about e-government, the administration is trying to dispel, is whether citizen services have been improved.

Officials point to initiatives such as Govbenefits.gov, IRS Free File and Grants.gov as examples of how citizens are receiving federal information easier.

“To date, [GovBenefits.gov] has provided information to more than 22 million citizens and generated over 5 million referrals to agency benefit programs,” the fact sheet said. “Prior to launch of GovBenefits.gov, citizens had to search multiple agency Web sites in efforts to locate federal benefits.”

The administration also said more than 15 million taxpayers have filed with IRS Free File, saving the government more than $32 million, while 75 percent of all discretionary grant opportunities were available through Grants.gov in fiscal 2006.

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