OMB plans Round 2 of e-gov

'Too many agencies were considering similar IT programs.'

'Labor's Cameron Findlay

Office of Management and Budget officials are focusing on backroom operations and homeland security systems as they look past the 25 Quicksilver initiatives to the next wave of e-government projects.

Administration officials recently briefed the E-Government Subcommittee of the President's Management Council and have begun forming analysis teams to work on business cases to consolidate IT systems in six areas: data and statistics, human resources, criminal investigations, financial management, public health monitoring and monetary benefits.

'We recognize there may be opportunities, but we don't know how good they may be,' said Cameron Findlay, deputy secretary of Labor and chairman of the subcommittee. 'Too many agencies were considering similar IT programs in these areas, and we need to figure out how to evaluate these opportunities.'

Findlay said the subcommittee will discuss potential future e-government projects at its next meeting and likely take up the issue before the full council at its next quarterly meeting.

Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for IT and e-government, said agencies requested more than $3.5 billion for projects in these six areas for fiscal 2004. Hardware, software and workflow components, business processes, project management and IT staffing are some of the areas agencies could spend on jointly, he said.

Obvious redundancies

Findlay said project redundancy was obvious to OMB officials. He gave two examples: the Justice and Treasury departments and the Environmental Protection Agency requested money for criminal investigation systems; and the Social Security Administration and Labor and Veterans Affairs departments requested funds for systems to track grants.

The six analysis teams will broker partnerships among agencies to work on similar projects, said Norman Lorentz, OMB's chief technology officer. Then the teams will develop interim business cases to reduce the number of duplicate projects, Lorentz said. OMB will recommend to the management council that the consolidation work begin in October, at the start of fiscal 2004.

The analysis teams will be made up of agency officials, CIOs, systems architects and program managers, Lorentz said.

OMB's timing in starting the next set of e-government projects received mixed reviews from agencies and outside observers.

Findlay said agencies have expressed concern about having to assign more employees to work on the analysis teams. OMB is coming up with a plan on how to staff them, he said.

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