Bill fortifies e-gov's stature

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., was a sponsor of the Electronic Government Act.

Henrick G. de Gyor

Once signed into law, the Electronic Government Act will reinforce the importance of information technology-enabled government services and ensure e-gov programs will continue from year to year, according to government and industry officials.

Congress passed the legislation Nov. 15 and President Bush's expected signature was still pending at press time.

"As a result, the government will be taking full advantage of the Internet and other information technologies to maximize efficiency and provide the public with seamless, secure online information and services," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and a sponsor of the bill.

The E-Government Act calls for the creation of an Office of Electronic Government within the Office of Management and Budget and led by an administrator appointed by the president. The administrator will implement e-government initiatives and oversee agencies' compliance with relevant statutes.

Mark Forman now heads the administration's e-government efforts as associate director of information technology and e-government. The bill codifies his position.

The bill authorizes an e-government fund for interagency projects. It approves $45 million for the fund in fiscal 2003, and increases it to $150 million by fiscal 2006.

There are 24 interagency e-gov projects under way, including a Web portal for grants information and applications and a portal for information on disaster assistance and crisis response.

Among other provisions, the legislation requires agencies to conduct administrative rule-making on the Internet. It allows state and local governments to buy IT products and services off the General Services Administration federal supply schedules and establishes a program to evaluate private-sector e-government solutions. It also authorizes share-in-savings contracts for IT through 2005, whereby the contractor shares with the agency customer the savings achieved by contractor performance. *

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