Young: E-government evangelist

Tim Young is a believer, an e-government convert. A year ago, he wasn't especially interested in government service. But now, he's the recently promoted associate administrator of e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

The story begins like this: As a private-sector consultant, Young went last year to meet with Mark Forman, then OMB's administrator of e-government and IT. The position of internal effectiveness and efficiency portfolio manager, a political appointment, was open, and Young, a recent business administration graduate, had heard about the job from a friend.

"I was thinking, 'I'm not really looking for a new job,'" Young said, seated in sparsely decorated digs in the New Executive Office Building. "'Worst-case scenario, I get to know the guy, maybe I can sell him some software.'" Instead, Forman turned the tables on him. "Mark is a true visionary," Young said. "He totally sold me on the concept of citizen-centric government."

Since coming on board as a portfolio manager and now as associate administrator, Young has been busy helping promote what he describes as a "total paradigm shift about the way agencies are thinking about the implementation of their IT investments."

That's a reference to the 24 e-government initiatives, many of which are reaching maturity, and the more recent governmentwide lines of business effort, which OMB officials began last March.

"The lines of business — that's the next wave of e-government," Young said.

"We're going to provide large solutions with significant cost savings, paced implementation and tighter integration with enterprise architecture," he added.

Officials on the various lines of business task forces hope to achieve economies

of scale by consolidating common government operations. They recently announced their intention to set up cross-agency service centers in fiscal 2006 to provide IT infrastructure in three areas: management of finances, human resources and grants.

Members of a case management task force are hearing from vendors about options for setting up a common investigation management system, and they plan to issue a request for proposals next summer for litigation case management.

"Spending hundreds of millions [of dollars] on duplicative systems means that it's broken," Young said. "Are we that unique as a government that we can't process receivables in a consistent format? That we can't share our systems with other agencies? That we can't cross-service other agencies?"

The correct answers are no, of course. But as passionate as he gets, Young said he tries to temper his ardor with careful consensus building and humor.

People who know him said Young looks for collaboration opportunities. "Obviously, I had a lot of confidence in his ability or I wouldn't have promoted him," said Karen Evans, Forman's successor.

Young "tends to have a politics-of-inclusion approach to solving problems," said Tad Anderson, the previous associate administrator. "Tim understands that introducing some humor and levity helps to relax and disarm conflicting groups."

Possibilities for conflict abound. Getting agency officials to migrate operations to third-party providers "goes to fundamental questions of trust [and] commitment," Young said. "I can't express enough the level of communication that is entailed in implementing e-government. It is a cultural shift in the way the government has operated for many, many years."

Part of that cultural shift is a new push to replace pass-the-hat funding for e-government with fee-for-service arrangements. "These aren't free solutions," he said. "They cost money, but they cost a lot less money in relative terms than the alternative."

Six e-government initiatives — E-Training, Geospatial One-Stop, e-Grants, Recruitment One-Stop, GovBenefits and Recreation One-Stop — are set to start charging public and agency users to access the services.

The new financing approach has led some officials to question whether charging fees for e-government could create a perverse incentive for some agencies to curtail usage, but Young dismisses those worries, saying "Agencies don't mind paying the fee as long as they are deriving value from their participation."

The Tim Young file

Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from Georgia Southern University and a master's of business administration with a concentration in information technology from American University. Interned during his junior year with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). Volunteered at the Heritage Foundation for four months.

Age: 31.

Place of birth: St. Petersburg, Fla. Grew up in Marietta, Ga., an Atlanta suburb.

Current residence: Recently purchased a Capitol Hill row house built in 1905, which he spends weekends renovating.

Work history: More than three years at EOP Group Inc., a business and political consulting company in Washington, D.C. He later was a senior consultant for about three years in BearingPoint Inc.'s federal services consulting practice.

Hobbies: Golf, reading and cooking. "My father is a retired chef. I love to cook big meals and have dinner parties." He confesses that, time permitting, he reads cooking magazines. "My father gave me a subscription to Savoir and Cooking Light."

Favorite books: "Crimson Tide" by Tom Clancy, and any John Grisham book.

Typical breakfast: Coffee with Splenda and an "everything" bagel with cream cheese. "I usually only eat breakfast if I know I'm not going to get lunch," he said.

Quote: "This job is forcing me to have a structured management style, to be collaborative to the extent possible."

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