OMB's Lorentz: No pain, no gain on e-gov projects

GCN Photo by Henrik G. DeGyor

Norman Lorentz says much of the pain of progress comes from cultural change.

Agencies working on e-government projects should be prepared for some discomfort, Norman Lorentz said recently.

'Behavior, processes and actions must change to make these initiatives work,' the Office of Management and Budget's chief technology officer told a Council for Excellence in Government seminar on e-government.

'The pain of the current situation must be more extreme than the new processes to make something happen,' he said. 'The view that we will do e-government without a little pain is not realistic. The more gear-grinding and shrieking you hear, the more progress is being made.'

Lorentz said the pain he is speaking of has less to do with technology and more to do with cultural changes, such as sharing funding and control.

'Transformation occurs when you manage projects horizontally,' he said. 'Agencies which share in the ownership of the project, retain that feeling and make sure the processes continue for a long time.'

A lot of the changes would occur quickly if agencies complied with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act and the Government Information Security Reform Act, two government officials said.

'These acts formalize and assist government agencies by giving us the flexibility to implement different things,' said Mayi Canales, the Treasury Department's deputy CIO. 'These laws are the backbone we rely on.'

Different strategies

Canales spoke along with Kevin Landy, a majority staff member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, on a panel about what Congress and the administration expect from e-government efforts.

Landy said GPEA and GISRA lay out strategies different from OMB's milestone plan for achieving e-government success.

'GPEA is a driver for a lot of other things such as better security, IT management and IT human resource management,' he said. 'If GPEA is done right, it can put the building blocks in place for e-government. It may be more cross-cutting than OMB's 24 initiatives.'

Canales agreed. 'GISRA and the Government Performance and Results Act define security in our daily lives,' she said. 'If we don't share across government structures, we will not be able to do what we need to.'

She added that the bulk of the e-government work so far has centered on figuring out how to share resources.

The 24 OMB-backed projects are progressing, Lorentz said. Agencies will likely issue requests for proposals in the coming months for the front-running projects, he said.

'By the end of the quarter, we will be rolling on the ones that are ready,' Lorentz said. 'Our intention is to have the private sector do much of the heavy construction. The government should be in the IT management and process business.'

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