Policy consensus seen critical to information sharing

Successful government information sharing projects start with agreement to commit the resources to a common goal, officials speaking at FOSE agreed today.

By comparison, the technical side of intergovernmental and interagency information sharing projects is relatively easy, the officials said.

Denis Gusty, program manager for the Labor Department's Govbenefits.gov project to provide a common Web site for federal benefits programs, said department officials found resistance to sharing information.

'If you asked them whether the project was beneficial, they said yes,' Gusty said of program managers from other agencies. 'But nobody wanted to participate.

'We had monthly meetings and followed up with calls and e-mails,' he said. 'We succeeded but it wasn't easy'we had to get senior management and the Office of Management and Budget involved."

Lynn Hadden, senior Web architect, public access technologies in Fairfax County, Va.'s Information Technology Department, said her agency's project to build a common site for recreational facilities across some states and local governments had suffered due to a lack of agency policy consensus.

'I think it is important up front to set a contract to make an official commitment to a project,' Hadden said. 'By the time our project ended, two state governments had been replaced'you need a framework because you can't rely only on individuals.'

Beth Richardson, application support administration in Virginia Beach, Va.'s Communications and Information Technology Department, said her government had found success in a regional law enforcement project by gathering commitments to a written contract to participate.

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