Gore and Bush make e-gov a campaign issue

Gore and Bush make e-gov a campaign issue

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

Signaling the impact electronic-government initiatives will have on the presidential campaign, both leading candidates this month debated the future of government reform proposals and argued that more needs to be done.

Vice President Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush each proposed an interagency project fund, something information technology executives have said has been lacking.

The proposals

Bush, in a speech last week in Philadelphia, proposed a $100 million fund to support e-government initiatives.

The Republican candidate also said that as president he would appoint the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management as governmentwide chief information officer to control the $100 million fund.

Earlier this month, Gore proposed that government should put nearly every service online within three years.

'If I'm entrusted with the presidency, together we can use technology to ensure that by 2004, we can look back on the time before e-government, and it will seem as outdated and antiquated as government before the telephone seems today,' the Democratic candidate said in a speech at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.

Democrat Al Gore proposes putting most government services online within three years.

Republican George W. Bush says he would appoint a governmentwide chief information officer if elected.

Take it to the Web

'The power of government should not be locked away in Washington but put at our service'no further away than our keyboard,' he said.

Just days later, Bush unveiled his plans for bettering government and criticized Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government for failing to meet expectations.

'Across America, people are learning about this trend of reform. Yet it appears largely
to have escaped the notice of
the federal government,' Bush said.

'Today when Americans look to Washington, they see a government slow to respond, slow to reform and ignoring all the changes going on around it,' he said. 'At times, the government is irrational, running things without any standard of what is necessary or even what was intended.'

Despite the two candidates' differing viewpoints, both touted online government initiatives.

Gore's plan has four parts:

• Cut red tape by putting government services online.

• Create an interactive town square on government projects.

The plan calls for performance measurements for e-government projects, and it would require agencies to post progress reports online.

• Let citizens buy surplus government items through a government online auction site.

• Provide digital certificates for secure access to services. The plan would provide a free digital certificate to any citizen who wants to connect with the government online.

The certificates for the Gore plan would likely come from the General Services Administration's Access Certificates for Electronic Services program, said Morley A. Winograd, Gore's senior policy adviser and director of NPR, which Gore spearheads for the Clinton administration.

But they could also include certificates proposed by the Defense Department, which is working to let businesses and government conduct more transactions online, he said.

There is the opportunity to have 'new and unheard-of levels' of citizen interaction with government, Winograd said. 'I think that drives all the rest of reinvention.'

The next administration must address issues such as security and privacy, he said.

Things to consider

Government will also have to change some of its processes and consider providing money for more interagency systems initiatives and projects through a governmentwide fund, Winograd said.

Under a Bush administration, a governmentwide systems czar would spearhead the e-government effort, the candidate said.

'There is a need for greater leadership and coordination,' a paper from the Bush campaign stated.

Bush said he would create a 'truly citizen-centered' government under which individuals could create their own personalized interface with government.

The GOP front-runner said he would move all significant government procurement online, enforce the Government Performance and Results Act, and convert service contracts to performance-based contracts wherever possible.

The plan, he said, would also 'flatten the federal hierarchy' by cutting 40,000 to 80,000 senior and middle-level management positions by attrition.

Bush said he would also reduce the number of layers of upper management.

The Republican said he would recommend a biennial budget process.

Lawmakers could spend alternate years conducting more vigorous oversight of federal programs.


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