White House report shows E-gov champions and laggards

There’s progress on the E-government front, though the status of some projects is lagging behind expectations, according to a White House update submitted this week to Congress.

The so-called “Mid-Session Review,” an update prepared by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), contains revised government budget estimates. For the first time, this year’s Mid-Session Review also reports on President Bush’s Management Agenda, a five-pronged strategy for improving management of the federal government.

As one of the President’s five core management reform agenda items, E-government is included in the review.

Overseen by OMB, E-government consists of 24 key initiatives aimed at simplifying delivery of federal services to citizens, businesses and municipalities.

“The expanded E-government initiative is making government services easier to use and more responsive,” the report says. “The E-government initiative requires agencies to focus IT spending on improving mission performance, reducing duplication, ensuring information security, and cooperating across traditional agency silos.”

For the Mid-Session Review, OMB reviewed 26 agencies’ E-government progress.

OMB calls out E-government successes, including the redesigned Firstgov Web site, which is the official U.S. government Web portal; and the new social services portal, Govbenefits, which provides citizens with a tool to locate federal assistance programs. In addition, it touts the National Science Foundation, which currently receives 99 percent of its annual proposals online, as a small agency model for successful E-government.

In all, 16 agencies have made significant progress in accomplishing the goals of expanded E-government, the report says.

The report includes a scorecard ranking each agency, in each of the five management agenda items, on two variables: project status as of June 30, and implementation progress.

In the status category, a “green” rating means an agency meets all of the standards for success; “yellow” says an agency has achieved some, but not all, of the criteria; and “red” indicates an agency has serious flaws.

In the “progress” category, agencies are rated based on pre-established deliverables and timetables. “Green” means implementation is proceeding according to plans; “yellow” indicates some slippage; and “red” says the initiative is in serious jeopardy and unlikely to succeed without significant management intervention.

According to the scorecard, agencies have a lot of work to do. Only the National Science Foundation achieved a green status rating for its E-government work. The agency has made significant progress in fixing identified information security problems, the report says.

Results were more favorable in the progress portion of the scorecard, where all the ranked agencies received a green or yellow ranking.

In general, interagency cooperation is key to the success of E-government, the report says. “Agencies continue to be challenged by E-government requirements for joining fragmented service delivery operations. To become fully successful in this initiative, more agencies must actively partner to simplify government processes and integrate IT investments around citizen needs.”