E-gov proponents say the barriers remain the same

More than two years after government accelerated its pace down the e-government road, agencies are facing the many of the same cultural, organizational and communication barriers, according to a panel of e-government program managers.

Agencies officials today said at an Industry Advisory Council's E-Government Shared-Interest Group meeting that while progress has been made in overcoming these challenges, e-government transformation is far from complete.

"Agencies need to step out of their individualism and look at the larger issue," said Laura Callahan, deputy CIO at the Homeland Security Department. "We need to deliver results that are for the common good, which is a different shift than most traditional federal agencies are used to."

Callahan, who moderated the panel of four Quicksilver project managers and one agency e-government director, said agencies need to stop defending the old way agencies built systems and see how systems can be shared across agencies.

Sara Hebert, the Transportation Security Administration's e-government program manager, said agencies need to consider change management and demand management before launching a new system. TSA recently debuted six new e-government programs and the demand to use them and the resistance to change has been significant at times, she said.

"We need to look at issues from a strategic perspective," Hebert said. "Processes must be in place so change is sustained. Otherwise we will shortchange the value of IT."

Oscar Morales, project director for the Environmental Protection Agency's Online Rulemaking initiative, said his staff has met with more than 50 agency officials to gain support for the eventual migration to one electronic rulemaking system.

"We've heard from agencies that they do things with other agencies and they have problems communicating within their own agency," Morales said. "It is important to get that face time to discuss what is e-government and how and why it is important."

Other project managers also said meeting face-to-face with agency representatives about their projects has been a key to success.

"We communicate the value, goals and address the culture issues at every level," said Mitra Nejad, program manager for the General Services Administration's Federal Asset Sales project. "We created working groups to address specific agency requirements."

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