Study finds e-gov success factors

For e-government efforts, intergovernmental relations are a more important success factor than technology.

'Social Security Administration's Kim Mitchel

Henrik G. DeGyor

As the Bush administration places an increased emphasis on intergovernmental collaboration, e-government projects will take on greater importance. State, local, federal and industry officials last month said these projects must do more than pay lip service to the buzzwords of communication and leadership to be successful.

'There has to be an honest assessment between the federal and state and local partners,' said Tricia Iveson, the co-chairwoman of the Industry Advisory Council's e-government shared interest group, which last month, along with the General Services Administration, released a study on success factors for cross-jurisdictional e-government projects. 'Divisions in authority, accountability and control present unique challenges when managing these projects.'

Chris McKinnon, the project manager for the Western Governors Association's Health Passport Project, said he learned that resolving both personnel and technical issues as early as possible helped his project. The Health Passport Project gave 15,000 smart cards to citizens in Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming enrolled in federal benefits programs such as Head Start, Medicaid and the Agriculture Department's Women, Infants and Children program. The program lets participants claim benefits more easily because all their information is stored on the card.

McKinnon said formalizing agreements with all parties to include administrative guidelines and common business processes helps make sure everyone is on the same page. He also said a phased implementation schedule helps garner support because the approach builds on program successes.

Jim Van Wert, a senior adviser for policy, planning and e-government for the Small Business Administration, leads the Business Compliance One-Stop project, one of the Office of Management and Budget's 25 Quicksilver initiatives. The project will let federal, state and local agencies share information from businesses that register for permits and licenses. It also will provide companies information on laws and regulations.

Van Wert said he has learned five lessons since he's been working on the project.

'The project needs to be modeled after the customer,' he said. 'Know the customers, know your competitors, know those who don't want you to do this. You have to be flexible and improvise, because you end up changing courses many times.'

Kim Mitchel of the Social Security Administration, the project leader for the Treasury Department's Simplified Tax and Wage Reporting project, said intergovernmental relations are more important than technology.

'You need to understand what entities are involved,' she said. 'You also need to know the dimensions of the project, whether it is two agencies or 100.'

Van Wert said finding a champion for a project is key to e-government success at all levels. Government agencies must share the power and the credit, establish and meet milestones, and maintain a sense of urgency to get the project done, he said.

Leslie Cone, manager of the Bureau of Land Management's National Integrated Land System project, said she spent time analyzing the legacy systems being used by all agencies. The NILS project will manage public survey records and land parcel information using a geographic information system through a Web portal.

'Once we gathered the requirements, the business rules and the data on the legacy systems, we were able to re-engineer the business processes,' she said. 'It helped having a program manager who has a business background instead of an IT background.'

Mitchel said understanding the IT platforms involved is the first step to integrating them.
IAC's study can be found at www.iaconline.org.

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