Another View: One congressman who's pleased with e-gov

Adam Putnam

That Americans live in an increasingly interconnected society is well-established. Technology has affected all of our lives and changed the way we receive and disseminate information'even those of us in the relatively staid world of Congress.

IT and the Internet have especially changed the way government agencies operate. According to the Office of Management and Budget and independent surveys, more than 60 percent of all Internet users have visited government Web sites.

Congress enacted the E-Government Act of 2002 with the goal of enhancing access to government information and the delivery of services to citizens, businesses and other agencies. E-government will increase the need for the government to use technology and, we hope, stimulate it to use technology more effectively, thus making the federal government more efficient and productive.

The E-Government Act spurred the now-famous 25 specific e-gov initiatives OMB is shepherding to completion. These initiatives each fulfill the goals of improving service delivery with efficiency and effectiveness, and generally improving the government's responsiveness.

From my perch on Capitol Hill, I've had the opportunity to monitor these innovative initiatives. My subcommittee of the Government Reform Committee has primary jurisdiction over all matters relating to IT, government information policy and intergovernmental relations. As it specifically relates to the e-government projects, the subcommittee has conducted an oversight hearing on this subject. We'll continue with a series of hearings as the initiatives evolve and mature.

One initiative I think has had a measurable impact is GovBenefits.gov. A collaborative effort among 10 agencies, it is a Web portal that accomplishes the unprecedented task of consolidating government benefits information previously spread among thousands of Web locations. The underlying premise is that citizens should not need to dissect government organization charts to find and apply for benefits that were created to assist them in the first place.

The site combines an easy-to-use eligibility screening tool with the convenience of custom, printable reports detailing the programs from which citizens may be eligible to receive benefits. Plus, there are instructions on how to apply. The GovBenefits portal combines speed and convenience with information specifically tailored for individual citizens.

In my opinion, the project is a shining example of the government's use of technology to improve service delivery and citizen access.

Technology can aid people in many areas of their lives, including the way they interact with government. The E-Government Act demonstrates government's dedication to efficiency and accessibility for all citizens. GovBenefits and the other e-gov initiatives use technology to bring the federal government closer to the citizens it serves.

On the first anniversary of the launch of GovBenefits.gov'and to all those who have labored to make this project a success'my congratulations. I look forward to monitoring the progress as more and more people learn about this valuable tool.

Rep. Adam H. Putnam (R-Fla.) is chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

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