E-gov effort seeks to pare redundant spending

Companies responding to the federal government's request for information for new e-government projects should provide ideas for systems that integrate existing initiatives whenever possible, said Norm Enger, e-government project director for the Office of Personnel Management.

Enger and other government officials spoke today at an industry briefing in Washington about the government's April 15 RFI on systems that will handle federal agency needs in human resources, financial management and grants management.

For example, the grants.gov Web site, which receives grant applications, will remain the storefront for the grants management initiative, said Mark Carney, chief financial officer at the Education Department.

The new grants management solution will go beyond application intake to handle back-office functions for the government's 26 grant-making agencies, said Mary Santonastasso, director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Grants and Agreements.

With the new systems, Office of Management and Budget officials want to improve efficiency and cut millions of dollars in redundant spending across the agencies. Agencies are expected to spend $1.2 billion on development and enhancement projects in these areas in 2004 and 2005, according to OMB.

The new initiatives are different than the government's initial e-government efforts because they will go beyond single functions, such as e-payroll, to cover the entire gamut of human resources, financial management and grants management processes, Enger said.

Contractors have until May 17 to respond to the RFI by describing systems and implementation approaches. Contractors can submit ideas in one, two or all three lines of business, officials said.

Contractors' ideas should comply with the federal enterprise architecture, said Richard Brozen, an assistant to Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT.

Officials clarified that they are looking for ideas from industry that will result in the procurement of several new systems in the three lines of business. Companies should not assume the government wants only one system in each area, they said.

Business cases for the new systems will be prepared for the fiscal 2006 budget cycle; requests for proposals will be issued in 2005 and 2006, said John Sindelar, director of OMB's line-of-business project.

A more specific schedule for procuring the new solutions and the methods of funding has not been established. Those details cannot be worked out until the RFI responses have been reviewed, said Sindelar, who also serves as deputy associate administrator for governmentwide policy at the General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy.

"We hope to have many successes in place by FY07," he said.

Sindelar said no decisions have been made about freezing agency spending on redundant systems, but he added: "We are not going to invest in systems that will be redundant with what we are trying to do in the future."

Financial management solutions must include accounting; asset and liability management; payments; budget and finance; collections and receivables; and reporting, Brozen said.

Grants solutions should handle the entire grants management process, from application through award closeout and financial reconciliation, Santonastasso said.

Human resources systems should address 18 functions, including vacancy tracking, recruiting, security clearance processing, payroll and benefits administration, Enger said.

Agencies that have not yet joined these new e-government efforts "will have to participate," Sindelar said. "Agencies have chosen to be a part of this, or they will join us later."

More information on the three lines of business can be found at http://lobv.gsa.gov.

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