With two years left, OMB's e-gov goals get clearer

With a little more than two years left before the administration ends, Karen Evans knows what she has to do.

The Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for e-government and IT is out to shut down systems that duplicate the 25 e-government and nine Lines of Business initiatives, and achieve cost savings and efficiency.

While this goal is not new—OMB has said all along that e-government will accomplish these things—Evans said agencies and her office are in a better position to determine what systems must be turned off, how much money agencies are saving and where the efficiency gains are being made.

Evans said there are specific dates for agencies to shut down their redundant systems in each department’s e-government implementation plans. While these plans and dates are not public, Evans said the high-risk list is a good barometer of which agencies will turn off systems.

“These are mutually agreed upon dates,” Evans said after a luncheon discussion on the President’s Management Agenda sponsored by the IBM Center for The Business of Government in Washington. “The Labor Department’s use of E-Travel is a great example of cost avoidance and cost savings.”

OMB reported last month in a fact sheet about the PMA that Labor has reduced its voucher costs for travel expenses by more than 60 percent, from $62.59 per voucher to $24.75.

Evans added that only with E-Payroll did OMB shut down systems, and there is a policy that requires agencies to turn off systems that duplicate the Grants.gov’s find and apply application.

“For the rest, we are asking agencies if they have any unique needs,” Evans said. “With governmentwide systems, there is a certain level of performance that agencies need. If they have a need that is above and beyond the service offering, the system may not be shut down. There has to be a trusted environment and ability to manage expectations.”

This is a minor change of direction from what OMB had been saying for the last four years. In the past, OMB used tools such as Clinger-Cohen letters to require agencies to only use governmentwide systems. Former OMB administrator Mark Forman sent letters telling agencies to turn off duplicative system for the E-Rulemaking, E-Training, E-Payroll and E-Clearance projects.

But as agencies have balked at turning systems off, Evans now is taking a closer look at agencies’ unique requirements.

To verify cost avoidance or savings, Evans in August asked agencies to establish baseline costs for their current systems. Agencies were expected to develop baseline costs by Sept. 30 and to provide OMB with cost savings and cost avoidance data later this month.

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