OMB unveils next-generation e-gov strategy

Mark Forman

Henrik G. de Gyor

The Office of Management and Budget is gearing up for agencies to submit business cases by Sept. 8 for the second round of e-government initiatives.

OMB will accept cross-agency e-government proposals for four lines of business: public-health monitoring, criminal investigation, human resources administration and financial management.

The effort during the next generation of Quicksilver projects is to reduce duplicative systems, said Mark Forman, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT. He detailed the efforts at a hearing last week of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

The Health and Human Services Department, Justice Department, Office of Personnel Management and OMB have been leading teams that are analyzing possible collaborative efforts for the four areas, he said.

'We want agencies to take clear ownership of the lines of business,' Forman said. 'Justice and HHS clearly have. We are working with the Chief Financial Officers Council and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council to help establish ownership of the other two lines of business.'

The four areas cover 281 projects with estimated funding of $2.8 billion for fiscal 2004, Forman said. OMB estimates the government can save roughly that amount over the next five years by consolidating these projects under e-government initiatives, he told the subcommittee.

OMB originally identified six areas for cross-agency projects. But based on a recent analysis by Touchstone Consulting Inc. of Washington, OMB decided the four areas offer the largest opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies, Forman said.

'There are billions of dollars in savings potentially possible on the IT and operations sides,' he said. 'We are looking at the convergence between business processes and operations.'

The administration has not abandoned the other two areas'monetary benefits, and data and statistics'but sees them as mainly benefiting two agencies. The Social Security Administration will submit a business case in September for a citizen payment services system based on the monetary benefits area, and the Census Bureau will establish an enterprise license for data and statistical software.

Touchstone's analysis found that agencies requested more than $27 billion for 364 projects in the six areas between 2004 and 2008. The consulting firm divided the projects into three groups: those that are redundant with the current set of 25 e-government initiatives; those that could not be consolidated; and those that could be consolidated.

Consolidation targets

Agencies will attempt to reach specific goals OMB laid out in each the four lines of business.

Among its efforts, HHS'for instance'will establish a federal health architecture and define strategies for consolidating disease surveillance and patient safety systems.

Forman said the need for the health architecture was clear during the 2001 anthrax attack. Federal officials realized that the numerous public health information systems weren't effectively linking medical facilities to the information they needed. 'We probably need two systems, not 18,' Forman said.

Gail Repsher Emery of Washington Technology contributed to this story.

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