E-gov progress report

Six years in, has e-government changed agencies?

OMB's e-gov team, from left: Jeff Koch, Wendy Liberante, Andrew Ciafardini, Karen Evans, Tim Young and Carol Bales.

Rick Steele

Business Gateway, unlike some of the other Lines of Businesses, is something that has never done before. Business compliance across the federal government is all in one place, and it is very unique.' Wendy Liberante

With 25 e-government initiatives and nine Lines of Businesses, the
Office of Management and Budget's efforts to improve how
agencies deliver services have had their share of ups and downs.
Between the ongoing debate on the Hill to secure funding for the
projects to the consistent effort to turn the proverbial cultural
battleship, OMB administrator for e-government and IT Karen Evans,
associate administrator Tim Young and the staff of five portfolio
managers continue to increase their expectations on the quality of
results the projects produce.

GCN editorial director Wyatt Kash and assistant managing editor
for news Jason Miller sat down with Evans; Young; Jeff Koch,
Internal Efficiency and Effectiveness portfolio manager; Andrew
Ciafardini, Government-to-Citizen portfolio manager; Wendy
Liberante, Government-to-Business portfolio manager; and Carol
Bales, E-Authentication portfolio manager, to discuss the progress
agencies have made so far and what their plans are for year six of
the administration's e-government effort.


GCN: What new developments are going on in the
Government-to-Citizen portfolio?


Ciafardini: One of the things we have been working on is 18
of our e-government initiatives have a performance measurement
project. That is very exciting because we are really focusing on
measuring three specific areas: adoption, usage and customer
satisfaction (see story, Page 36).


Customers don't just include citizens; a lot of times
agencies or states can be customers. A lot of times we track two
metrics, one for agencies and their customer satisfaction, and a
second for the outward-facing part of the initiative that involves
the service to the citizen.


GCN: What has been the challenge in getting the metrics
defined?


Ciafardini: The great thing is a lot of these agencies have
already been doing some of these things. All had some baseline
metrics, and it was just putting them into consistent categories
and separating them out to a point where we can make them more
actionable. One of the great opportunities has been to share the
data and some of the data we received from the Performance
Assessment Rating Tool process.


GCN: What is the status of the E-Authentication
project?


Bales: Of the 24 agencies that comprise the CIO Council, 19
have e-authentication-enabled applications. The remaining five are
in the process of implementing e-authentication at one or more
public-facing systems. We expect these implementations to be
complete by the end of the second quarter 2007 (see story, Page
1).


GCN: What is the status of the Internal Efficiency and
Effectiveness portfolio?


KOCH: One interesting part is because it is all internal and
support systems ' these are not core missions or part of
their programs. They sort of are distractions from their core
missions. So as agencies adopt them, it allows them to focus
management resources and attention on core mission.


There is a lot of activity. Some of [the e-government
initiatives], like Recruitment One-Stop, is pretty much done; it is
in production and agencies are using it. E-Records management
initiative owners completed their work, and agencies are building
their own records management schedules.


Some of the others, Human Resources and Financial Management
LOBs, are both very active and have been doing a great deal of work
in enterprise architecture. They started out with 26 agencies that
had their own processes for hiring someone or getting a promotion,
or raise or award. The HR LOB brought those agencies together and
came up with a process everyone agreed upon. That allowed us to
commoditize the HR systems. You know you can use any system that
complies to that architecture to meet your needs. Your requirements
documents now are standard HR requirements that are published and
you may have one or two small things on the side that you need. HR
has become very mature in those areas'they have a Business
Reference Model, Performance Reference Model that they worked with
our enterprise architecture team with [OMB chief architect] Dick
Burk to develop and test, they have a data model, and a technical
model is coming out soon.


GCN: Is 2007 the year we will see more agencies move to a
shared-services provider?


KOCH: The guidance on HR has been if an agency has a system
that is working for them, then they should stay with it until the
end of its lifecycle. If they have a system that needs to be
upgraded, then let's get them into a service organization.
The trend is, yes, there will be more agencies looking for HR
services. We have reached maturity with these enterprise
architectures and agencies knowing what they are buying, and are
getting better at buying it.


GCN: Discuss the latest on the Government-to-Business
portfolio.


LIBERANTE: We did a great relaunch of BusinessGateway.gov in
September. The unique thing about Business Gateway, unlike some of
the other lines of businesses, is this is something that has never
done before. Business compliance across the federal government is
all in one place, and it is very unique. It has received great
feedback from the business world.


GCN: Will agencies begin to shut down duplicative systems in
2007? E-Rulemaking is a perfect example of an e-government project
that was supposed to replace redundant systems.


LIBERANTE: E-Rulemaking has made great strides last year.
Right now, 100 percent of the rules are posted in the Federal
Register or posted online at Regulations.gov. The e-docket aspects
of E-Rulemaking, which is the agency side, just under 40 percent of
the agencies are using it as a docket management system. We are
adding close to three to four agencies a quarter to that and it is
a matter of getting them trained and agencies are working out their
issues.


YOUNG: The question I get asked a lot about E-Rulemaking
is specifically why, when agencies migrate to one system, are they
not shutting down the duplicative system. That is not the right
question. The right question is why have we not done this before.
Why force citizens to go to over 20 different places to look for
regulations and public comments, or go to a paper-based docket on M
Street SW [Washington] and look for this stuff?


The answers are all cultural in nature and not technical.
Federal Docket Management System is more than a pilot project now
as over 30 agencies have been converted to it. The main benefit is
not the shutdown of duplicative regulatory systems, but it is a
huge burden reduction to citizens and improvement in the
transparency of government actions.


GCN: How many systems are still being used that are
duplicative to E-Rulemaking?


LIBERANTE: Some agencies, like [the Health and Human
Services Department], have a legacy system and they are working
with E-Rulemaking to figure out what the gaps are and how to bridge
them.


EVANS: The intent is if we follow this one, HHS would
shut down their system. When we talk about e-government completion
of these initiatives, completion is not just that we've
implemented the system. But completion is when you shut down a
legacy system. That is what we are holding the agencies accountable
for. We will not realize the cost savings and true benefit of what
we have been trying to do here until they shut down legacy
systems.


GCN: You used the example of HHS. Will the department be
expected or asked to shut down its old system once the gaps are
addressed?


EVANS: You said, ask, expected, all that'the answer is
yes. The agency will say, 'It is in my best interest to get
rid of this investment because I'm moving everything over to
the new system.' We really want to make good business
decisions because the agency will see them [instead of just]
investments. It will not be a matter of us saying you will have to.
But the expectation is, and we will follow up on it, you have to
eliminate redundancies.


GCN: Do you have any idea of how many redundant systems there
are?


YOUNG: We actually are working on that in the context of the
agency's quarterly e-government PMA score. About a year and a
half ago, we worked with every agency to develop comprehensive
plans with milestones and dates to implement all e-government and
LOB initiatives.


GCN: What is the status of the Government-to-Government
portfolio?


YOUNG: Grants.gov hit a major milestone that we have been
planning for three years. The goal was 75 percent of grant
opportunities would be available for online application. They
exceeded that goal by 1 percent and hit 76 percent. In fiscal 2005,
the goal was 25 percent. In 2007, the goal is 100 percent.


It went from a conversation about 'no we can't do
this because '' to a conversation of 'yes, we
will do it if '' and the condition of certain aspect
of agency rules and policies put in place and goals from OMB being
established and a governance structure that takes into account what
every agency does in grants management and [what] the citizen and
higher-education aspects are. This goal was not accomplished
because OMB said it will be done, but because it made sense, it was
transparent and there was a big benefit not just to agencies, but
agencies' constituents.


Disaster Management implemented Disaster Management
Interoperability Services at every emergency operations center of
federal agencies. They have a tool to communicate in times of
disaster or times of preparing for disaster. That all happened
because there was a sense of urgency, a clarity of goals and a
commitment on behalf of the CIOs from all those agencies. The focus
now is on enhancing the current tool set to meet the evolving needs
of the first responders.


EVANS: Disaster Management is totally included in
DHS' appropriations. It has a self-sustaining model from our
perspective because it has a business owner, it has appropriated
dollars and its future is set. But because it is also within
DHS' appropriations there are things when we talk about
shutting down duplication and all these other types of activities,
the CIO at DHS has to look at his portfolio overall and say this is
a business line we provide, disaster management, how are we doing
it? It keeps getting reported that we are shutting down disaster
management and it is going away. This one is so mature, it is
getting ready to go to version 2. The agency owns it and looks at
how we can deliver service across the board across all our
components.


GCN: DHS CIO Scott Charbo is not unfunding disaster
management, then?


EVANS: He is improving the services of disaster management,
the business line within DHS. The presidential initiatives when we
first started were proofs of concepts that we could do these. Scott
is looking at what the business of DHS is and what tools we are
using to support it.


GCN: Describe some of the biggest accomplishments and
disappointments of the e-government and LOB projects that occurred
in 2006.


CIAFARDINI: GovBenefits.gov continues to provide outstanding
benefits information to millions of citizens, and USA Services
continues to lead the way in helping federal agencies serve
citizens by utilizing cost-effective call centers and information
services such as FirstGov.gov.


Due to a contract protest, development and deployment of the
National Recreation Reservation Service under Recreation One-Stop
has been delayed. However, in 2007, the initiative plans to launch
NRRS'the consolidated recreation reservation system.


KOCH: The Department of Labor, one of the first agencies
to complete its E-Travel implementation, reported that their cost
per travel voucher decreased from $62.59 to $24.75 (more than 60
percent) and voucher processing time decreased from seven to three
business days. Agencies migrating to one of the four E-Payroll
providers saw a nearly 30 percent reduction in average cost per W-2
in 2006 ($176 to $126). Currently, 86 percent of federal employees
are serviced by one of the E-Payroll pro- viders. All agencies that
are not currently using an E-Payroll provider are scheduled to
migrate in 2007.


LIBERANTE: There are more than 25,250 Federal Register
documents posted on Regulations.gov that are available for public
comments and over 300,000 documents (supporting material, notices
etc.) available on the site. Beginning in September 2005, agencies
began adopting the Federal Docket Management System as their docket
management tool. While funding restrictions delayed implementation
of FDMS, there are currently 13 agencies that have fully
implemented FDMS and new agencies continue to implement at a rate
of three to four agencies per quarter. FDMS currently logs more
than 2,300 agency staff as registered users.


BALES: The U.S. E-Authentication Identity Federation
membership more than doubled in size during the past year. We
currently have 32 relying parties operational in the federation
with three more expected to go live this month.


GCN: How has your communications strategy with the Hill
changed over the past year? How will it be different with the
Democrats in charge? Will obtaining funding for e-government be
easier now?


YOUNG: We will continue our efforts to work with agencies
and their congressional stakeholders to clearly define e-government
benefits to agencies and citizens. It is our job to actively
communicate these benefits to lawmakers and their staff. We will
continue to strive for the same goals because we believe
e-government is good government.



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