Most e-gov initiatives ready to take off

Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for information technology and e-government

Over the next four months, Mark Forman and his colleagues at the Office of Management and Budget expect to launch up to 21 first or second iterations of the 24 Quicksilver e-government initiatives.

During Quicksilver's first cycle, participating agencies put up Web sites and provided simple tools to show that the government can provide integrated customer-centric focus, said Forman, OMB's associate director for information technology and e-government.

"Virtually all the projects will have that first iteration done with some neat tool," he said. "Now we are about to start or, in some cases are already into, the second iteration. It is all about re-engineering; it is all about changing the way we do work, fixing the management problems to make it simpler."

Forman spoke Sept. 4 at the Interagency Resources Management Council conference in Hershey, Pa., outlining how he sees agency projects moving over the next six to eight months

Forman said the first version of the Transportation Department's Online Rulemaking system and the second iteration of the Interior Department's Web site will be unveiled in late September. The General Services Administration's E-Authentication prototype will launch in mid-September, letting citizens perform transactions with three or four projects, including some that are not among the 24 e-government initiatives, Forman said.

The Small Business Administration is planning to release the second version of its Business Compliance One-Stop by early November, Forman said.

Two other projects came online earlier this summer, Forman said. The Health and Human Services Department put an E-Grants portal prototype online, and the Treasury Department's Simplified and Unified Tax and Wage Reporting project put the 94x series of forms on the Web.

Forman said moved past its initial problems after Joe Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency leading the effort, sorted out several obstacles to the project with the head of another agency, which Forman declined to name. Forman said the site should be up in the next two months.

The Defense Department is working with the State and Commerce departments to launch an e-government project outside of the 24 Quicksilver initiatives. Forman said U.S. Export, a joint business case the three agencies will submit later this month, will let agencies conduct complicated paper processes for some licenses online.

"I'm very happy with the change we are seeing," Forman said. "We have to continue to focus on the Web. This is the fundamental way we are dealing with the public."

Forman said that by next summer, OMB will give the projects' managing partners the choice of two Web service platforms that will let the initiatives more easily share similar transactional processes. He said the platforms will be the IBM Grid Computing Platform and Microsoft .Net.

"Not every organization that does that transaction will have to own a piece of software to do that," he said. "This is one of big reasons we focused on enterprise architectures, so we can sync this up across agencies. This is a revolution in IT industry that we have to be in the forefront of and free up resources to focus on it."

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