GAO Praises E-Government Efforts - InformationWeek

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GAO Praises E-Government Efforts

Congressional auditors say more needs to be done, including developing a database and Web site containing information about federally funded research and development, and creating a program to encourage contractor innovation.

Congressional auditors say federal agencies and the White House Office of Management and Budget have taken positive steps toward implementing E-government under provisions of the E-Government Act enacted in 2002. Still, in a 56-page-report issued Wednesday by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, the Governmental Accountability Office says more needs to be done.

Among the report's major findings:

* The White House Office of Management and Budget and other executive-branch agencies have implemented the provisions of seven of 18 major elements of the law that GAO reviewed, have actions in progress to address another seven, and have not fully addressed provisions of the remaining four.

* OMB has established the Office of E-Government and the E-Government Fund, has issued guidance to agencies on implementing the act, and issued the first of the annual E-Government Reports.

* Progress has been achieved on continuing initiatives such as developing FirstGov as the integrated Internet portal for the government, establishing interoperable electronic signatures, posting federal court information on the Internet, and developing an electronic docket for rule makings.

* OMB has failed to develop a database and Web site containing information about all federally funded research and development.

* OMB and GSA have failed to conduct two required studies, one on the effect of the digital divide on access to E-government services and another on the use of IT to enhance crisis preparedness and response.

* OMB has failed to establish a program to encourage contractor innovation.

"I'm pleased by the progress already achieved, but agencies must redouble their efforts to fully realize the most important aspects of the legislation, such as conducting rule making on the Internet and protecting privacy," Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D.-Conn., a chief sponsor of the E-Government Act and ranking minority member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight over government IT, said in a statement. The panel's chairwoman, Sen. Susan Collins, R.-Maine, agreed and said in a statement that E-government has bipartisan support and the committee will continue to look for ways to improve implementation of the E-gov initiatives.

GAO, the investigative and auditing arm of Congress, recommends that OMB focus on employing an E-government approach to crisis preparedness, contractor innovation, and federally funded research and development, to help ensure that the act's objectives are achieved.

Congress enacted the E-Government Act to promote the use of the Internet and other IT to improve government services for citizens, internal government operations, and opportunities for citizen participation in government. The act directs the OMB and federal agencies to take specific actions to promote E-government. Collins and Lieberman asked GAO to conduct the review.

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