GovBenefits touted as e-gov model

On the first anniversary of GovBenefits.gov, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) yesterday praised the Labor Department's portal as an e-government model other agencies should follow.

'I never thought I would be standing here promoting any type of habit-forming activity,' said Putnam, chairman of the Government Reform subcommittee on IT, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

'But citizens are joining in every day on that great new habit of utilizing e-government. We must continue to aggressively press cross-agency solutions and cooperation within our government ranks. I hope it will be habit that catches on with the same vigor.'

Putnam joined Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, Clay Johnson'President Bush's nominee to become the new deputy director for management within the Office of Management and Budget'and Labor deputy secretary Cameron Findlay in a ceremony marking the progress of www.govbenefits.gov.

The portal lets citizens check their eligibility for federal benefit programs by answering a series of questions. It now lists all known federal benefit programs'more than 400, said Chao. Labor launched the site with 55 programs and has added 20 to 30 a month until it brought all of the benefits programs online. Chao said about 4 million visitors have used the site in 12 months.

'E-government is a major technology and culture change and Secretary Chao and deputy secretary Findlay understood that in leading this effort,' Putnam said.

'The Labor team and the administration will take the GovBenefits bar one-step higher by transforming it into a management tool that will allow citizens to have that transactional approach and apply online for services. It also will allow the government to manage benefit applications throughout the federal government and intergovernmentally'which is absolutely key to the success of this effort,' he said.

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