OMB's latest e-gov report shows continued effects on agencies, citizens

The Office of Budget and Management is touting its most recent e-government benefits report as the most transparent demonstration ever of the effect of the 25 projects and nine lines of business.

OMB delivered the annual report to Congress Feb. 14, and it details agency spending by initiative down to the bureau level along with governmentwide savings and each project’s risks, development status, milestones and goals.

“At no other time in this program have we been requested or provided this level of detail on the e-gov initiatives,” said Tim Young, OMB’s deputy administrator for e-government and information technology. “This is a good thing.”

Congress over the last three years has asked OMB for this report because it   continues to have concerns about e-government spending. However, the latest summary goes further than ever by detailing project specifics such as cost effectiveness, date of full operational capabilities and estimated cost to complete development, Young said.

“The goal of this report is to ensure we have a mutual understanding on the benefits of e-government between the legislative and executive branch,” Young said. “If they read this report, they will come to the same conclusion that we have that e-government is good government.”

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, said her office will brief the House and Senate appropriations committees next week on the report.

“Committee staff actually called our legislative affairs office asking when we will submit the report,” Evans said, adding this shows they are gaining enthusiasm for e-government.

Requests for comment on the report from the House and Senate appropriations committees were not immediately returned.

In the document, OMB said agencies saved $508 million from implementing e-government programs. Much of that came from agencies shutting down 42 duplicative systems, OMB said. For 2008, officials expect departments to terminate 74 other systems.

Young said another great example of these savings came from the Treasury Department, which didn’t spend $402,000 on travel management fees because they implemented a new e-travel system.

Overall, agencies will spend $161.6 million on e-government and lines of business projects this year, down from $165.2 million in 2007 and $192.9 million in 2006.

Evans said her office will issue the e-government results report next week, and they will show the increased use of the fee-for-service model among the initiatives. Last year, OMB estimated that agencies would spend more than $300 million on e-government under the fee-for-service model.

The Integrated Acquisition Environment project is to receive the most funding from agencies at $40.4 million this year, while is expected to get $13.3 million. The Federal Health Architecture would receive the most money for a line-of-business effort at $7.3 million, while the IT Infrastructure LOB would get $6 million.

The report also outlined each e-gov project’s future goals. Under GovBenefits, the Social Security Administration will shut down its SSA Best system and migrate to the governmentwide system. This has been a long-standing point of contention with OMB over whether SSA should migrate to GovBenefits.

The Health and Human Services and Interior departments will complete their migration to E-Rulemaking by March.

By 2009 under E-Vital, the project team will develop regulations for minimum standards for birth certificates.

Under E-Payroll, the Treasury Department’s Office of Thrift Supervision will migrate to the National Finance Center by Sept. 30, while the Veterans Affairs Department will migrate to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service by Dec. 31. The State Department has not yet scheduled a migration date, the report states.

Under E-Travel, seven agencies will migrate to one of three vendor systems in 2008, while six others will migrate in 2009.

“The sole and primary goal of e-government is not to save money,” Young said. “But we have demonstrated that we have saved money and improved services to citizens.”


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