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entitled 'Electronic Government: Potential Exists for Enhancing 
Collaboration on Four Initiatives' which was released on November 10, 
2003.

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Report to Congressional Committees:

October 2003:

ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT:

Potential Exists for Enhancing Collaboration on Four Initiatives:

GAO-04-6:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-04-6, a report to the Committee on Government Reform 
and the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, 
Intergovernmental Relations and the Census, House of Representatives 

Why GAO Did This Study:

In accordance with the President’s management agenda, the Office of 
Management and Budget has sponsored initiatives to promote expansion 
of electronic government—the use of information technology, 
particularly Web-based Internet applications, to enhance government 
services. Each initiative demands a high degree of collaboration among 
organizations. For four of these initiatives, GAO was asked to 
determine, among other things, their implementation progress and the 
extent of collaboration among agencies and other parties involved.

What GAO Found:

All four of the e-government initiatives that GAO reviewed have made 
progress in meeting the objectives and milestones of their early 
phases (the four initiatives, their goals, and the agencies that act 
as their managing partners are shown in the table). Two of the 
initiatives have established Web portals—www.geodata.gov for the 
Geospatial One-Stop initiative and www.BusinessLaw.gov for the 
Business Gateway. The projects face additional challenging tasks, such 
as e-Payroll’s objective of establishing governmentwide payroll 
processing standards and Geospatial One-Stop’s goal of compiling a 
comprehensive inventory of geospatial data holdings.

All four initiatives have taken steps to promote collaboration with 
their partner agencies, but none has been fully effective in involving 
all important stakeholders. For example, for the e-Payroll initiative, 
the Office of Personnel Management has taken steps to promote close 
collaboration with its four designated e-Payroll providers, but has 
not addressed the concerns of a key stakeholder that will be required 
to make changes to its payroll processes and policies. For Geospatial 
One-Stop, Interior has established a board of directors with broad 
representation, but has not taken steps to ensure that key 
stakeholders at the state and local levels are involved in the 
initiative. For the Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative, the 
General Services Administration is using a variety of tools to promote 
collaboration, but has not involved partner agencies’ chief financial 
officers. Finally, for the Business Gateway, the Small Business 
Administration has not taken key steps to facilitate effective 
collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, such as establishing 
a collaborative decision-making process and reaching formal agreements 
on partner roles and responsibilities. All four initiatives have faced 
short time frames to accomplish their major tasks, so that competing 
priorities have sometimes hindered full collaboration. However, 
without effective collaboration on the tasks that remain to be 
completed, these initiatives may be at risk of not fully achieving 
their objectives or the broader goals of the President’s management 
agenda.

What GAO Recommends:

To enhance the effectiveness of their efforts at collaboration and 
help achieve the initiatives’ goals, GAO is making recommendations to 
the managing partners of the four initiatives that address the 
specific collaboration issues revealed by the review.

In commenting on a draft of this report, all four agencies generally 
agreed with our discussion of the collaboration challenges facing e-
government initiatives. In addition, each of the agencies provided 
additional information about collaboration activities associated with 
their initiatives as well as technical comments, which have been 
incorporated into the final report where appropriate.

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-6.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Linda Koontz at (202) 512-6240 or 
koontzl@gao.gov.

[End of section]

Contents:

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

E-Government Initiatives Have Made Progress in Their Initial Stages:

Key Practices Facilitate Interagency Collaboration: 

Initiatives Have Achieved Varying Degrees of Collaboration: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendixes:

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Source Materials for Key Collaboration Practices: 

GAO Reports: 

Federal Agency Studies: 

International, State, and Local Agency Studies: 

Private Sector Studies: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Key Collaboration Practices and Their Major Elements: 

Table 2: e-Payroll Implementation of Key Collaboration Practices: 

Table 3: Geospatial One-Stop Implementation of Key Collaboration 
Practices: 

Table 4: Integrated Acquisition Environment Implementation of Key 
Collaboration Practices: 

Table 5: Business Gateway Implementation of Key Collaboration 
Practices:

Figures: 

Figure 1: OMB Management Structure for e-Government Initiatives: 

Figure 2: Partners and Affected Parties for the e-Payroll Initiative: 

Figure 3: Partners and Affected Parties for the Geospatial One-Stop 
Initiative: 

Figure 4: Partners and Affected Parties for the Integrated Acquisition 
Environment Initiative: 

Figure 5: Partners and Affected Parties for the Business Gateway 
Initiative: 

Abbreviations: 

CFO: Chief Financial Officer:

CIO: Chief Information Officer:

DFAS: Defense Finance and Accounting Service:

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency:

FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency: 

GIS: geographic information systems:

GPEA: Government Paperwork Elimination Act:

GSA: General Services Administration:

IRS: Internal Revenue Service:

IT: information technology:

OMB: Office of Management and Budget:

OPM: Office of Personnel Management:

SBA: Small Business Administration:

VA: Department of Veterans Affairs:

Letter October 10, 2003:

The Honorable Tom Davis: 
Chairman, Committee on Government Reform: 
House of Representatives:

The Honorable Adam H. Putnam: 
Chairman, Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, 
Intergovernmental Relations and the Census: 
Committee on Government Reform: 
House of Representatives:

The term "electronic government" (or e-government) refers to the use of 
information technology (IT), particularly Web-based Internet 
applications, to enhance the access to and delivery of government 
information and service to citizens, to business partners, to 
employees, and among agencies at all levels of government. The 
President has identified the expansion of e-government as one of the 
five priorities of his management agenda; accordingly, the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) has sponsored 25 initiatives to implement 
this agenda. This report specifically reviews the challenge of 
achieving effective interorganizational collaboration within 4 of these 
25 OMB-sponsored initiatives:

* e-Payroll, an initiative to standardize payroll operations across all 
federal agencies;

* Geospatial One-Stop, an initiative to help coordinate the collection 
and maintenance of geospatial data across all levels of 
government;[Footnote 1]

* Integrated Acquisition Environment, an initiative to create 
electronic tools to improve federal agencies' acquisition of goods and 
services; and:

* Business Gateway, an initiative to reduce the paperwork burden on 
small businesses and help them find, understand, and comply with 
federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Each of these initiatives demands a high degree of interorganizational 
collaboration. Both e-Payroll and Integrated Acquisition Environment 
need to work with a broad array of federal agencies. Geospatial One-
Stop depends on broad state and local government participation, and the 
Business Gateway aims to serve the small business community.

As agreed with your office, our objectives were to review four OMB-
sponsored e-government initiatives and determine (1) the progress that 
has been made to date in implementing the selected initiatives, (2) the 
major factors that can affect successful collaboration on e-government 
initiatives, and (3) the extent to which federal agencies and other 
entities have been collaborating on the selected initiatives. To assess 
the progress of the initiatives and the extent to which agencies were 
collaborating on them, we reviewed capital asset plans, communications 
strategies, and other project documentation; conducted interviews with 
project officials; and assessed electronic services made available to 
customers to date. We identified key practices affecting collaboration 
on e-government initiatives through a review of government, academic, 
and private sector literature on interorganizational collaboration. 
Details on our objectives, scope, and methodology are provided in 
appendix I. Our work was conducted from December 2002 to September 2003 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Results in Brief:

The four e-government initiatives we reviewed have made progress in 
meeting the objectives and milestones of their early phases. For 
example, Web portals were established for two of the initiatives--
www.geodata.gov for the Geospatial One-Stop initiative and 
www.BusinessLaw.gov for the Business Gateway. In addition, the 
Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative established an online 
capability that federal customers can use to access a variety of 
available interagency contracts. To continue building on these early 
achievements, the projects need to successfully address additional 
challenging tasks, such as those associated with e-Payroll's objective 
of establishing governmentwide payroll processing standards or 
Geospatial One-Stop's goal of compiling a comprehensive inventory of 
geospatial data holdings. In July 2003, OMB refocused one initiative, 
the Business Gateway, which had been making slow progress on its 
previous objectives. OMB tied the project's objectives and milestones 
more closely to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act's[Footnote 2] 
goal of reducing the burden of federal paperwork on small businesses.

Based on a review of government, private sector, and academic research, 
we identified five key broad practices that were found to have a 
significant impact on collaboration across disparate organizations:

* Establishing a collaborative management structure that provides for 
shared leadership and involvement at all levels and defines roles and 
responsibilities so that each participating organization is accountable 
for the initiative's success.

* Maintaining collaborative relationships among participants within a 
climate of trust and respect, including mechanisms for feedback and 
debate, based on formal agreements that document a shared vision for 
the project.

* Contributing resources equitably among all participants to reinforce 
the shared commitment to achieving common objectives.

* Facilitating communication and outreach that provide complete and 
timely information for all stakeholders to promote trust and reinforce 
commitment to achieving common objectives.

* Adopting a common set of standards for use by all project partners to 
provide a basis upon which otherwise independent entities can agree to 
share or integrate data or services.

While the four initiatives we reviewed have all taken steps to promote 
collaboration with their partner agencies, none of the initiatives has 
been fully effective in adopting these practices to fully involve 
important stakeholders. For example, for the e-Payroll initiative, the 
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has taken steps to promote close 
collaboration with its four designated e-Payroll providers, but it has 
not addressed the concerns of one of the key stakeholders that will be 
required to make changes to its payroll processes and policies. For 
Geospatial One-Stop, although Interior has established a board of 
directors with broad representation, it has not taken steps to ensure 
that a large number of the potential stakeholders at the state and 
local levels are involved in the initiative. For the Integrated 
Acquisition Environment initiative, the General Services 
Administration (GSA) is using a variety of tools to promote 
collaboration, but it has not involved partner agencies' chief 
financial officers. Finally, for the Business Gateway, the Small 
Business Administration (SBA) has not taken key steps to facilitate 
effective collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, such as 
establishing a collaborative decision-making process and reaching 
formal agreements on partner roles and responsibilities. All four 
initiatives have faced short time frames to accomplish their major 
tasks, and they generally have not fully adopted these collaboration 
practices because of other competing priorities. However, without 
effective collaboration on the tasks that remain to be completed, these 
initiatives may be at risk of not fully achieving their objectives or 
the broader goals of the President's management agenda.

We are making recommendations to the managing partner agencies for each 
of the four e-government initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of 
collaboration as a tool to use in achieving their objectives.

We received written comments on a draft of this report from the 
Director of OPM; Interior's Assistant Secretary, Policy, Management and 
Budget; and SBA's Program Executive Officer for e-Government. We also 
recieved oral comments from the Administrator of GSA. All four agencies 
generally agreed with our discussion of the collaboration challenges 
facing e-government initiatives. In addition, each of the agencies 
provided additional or updated information about collaboration 
activities associated with their initiatives, as well as technical 
comments, which have been incorporated into the final report where 
appropriate.

Background:

In the context of electronic government, collaboration can be defined 
as a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by 
two or more organizations to achieve common goals. It is an in-depth, 
managed relationship that brings together separate and distinct 
organizations into a new structure. Recent management reform efforts 
within the federal government have focused on collaboration as a way to 
reduce duplication and integrate federal provision of services to the 
public. Collaboration is a key theme of the President's management 
agenda, published in 2002, which aims at making the federal government 
more focused on citizens and results.

One of the key provisions of the management agenda is the expansion of 
electronic government. To implement this provision, OMB identified and 
is working on projects that address the issue of multiple federal 
agencies performing similar tasks that could be consolidated through 
e-government processes and technology. Specifically, OMB established a 
team, known as the E-Government Task Force, that analyzed the federal 
bureaucracy and identified areas of significant overlap and redundancy 
in how federal agencies provide services to the public. The task force 
found that multiple agencies were conducting redundant operations 
within 30 major functions and business lines in the executive branch. 
Further, each line of business was being performed by an average of 19 
agencies, and each agency was involved in an average of 17 business 
lines. To address these redundancies, the task force evaluated 
potential projects, focusing on collaborative opportunities to 
integrate IT operations and simplify processes within lines of business 
across agencies and around citizen needs. As a result of this 
assessment, the task force identified a set of 25 high-profile 
initiatives[Footnote 3] to lead the federal government's drive toward 
e-government transformation and enhanced service delivery through 
collaboration.

As the lead agency overseeing the management of these initiatives, OMB 
developed a strategy for expanding electronic government, which it 
published in February 2002.[Footnote 4] In its strategy, OMB 
established a portfolio management structure to help oversee and guide 
the selected initiatives and facilitate a collaborative working 
environment for each of them. This structure includes five portfolios, 
each with a designated portfolio manager reporting directly to OMB's 
Associate Director for IT and E-Government. The five portfolios are 
"government to citizen," "government to business," "government to 
government," "internal efficiency and effectiveness," and "cross-
cutting." Each of the 25 initiatives is assigned to one of these 
portfolios, according to the type of results the initiative is intended 
to provide. Further, for each initiative, OMB designated a specific 
agency to be the initiative's "managing partner," responsible for 
leading the initiative, and assigned other federal agencies as 
"partners" in carrying out the initiative. Figure 1 provides an 
overview of the e-government management structure established by OMB.

Figure 1: OMB Management Structure for e-Government Initiatives:

[See PDF for image]

Note: Initiatives marked by arrows are those reviewed in this report.

[End of figure]

Successful implementation of the 25 cross-agency e-government 
initiatives--resulting in reductions in redundancies and overlap of 
federal programs and services--requires effective collaboration. 
Recognizing that collaboration is challenging, the President's budget 
for fiscal year 2004 highlighted the continuing need to establish a 
collaborative framework for cross-agency e-government initiatives. In 
November 2002, we reported that despite the importance placed on 
collaboration in OMB's e-government strategy, less than half of the 
initial business cases for the OMB-sponsored initiatives addressed a 
strategy for successfully collaborating with other government and 
nongovernment entities.[Footnote 5] Based on these results, we 
recommended that the OMB Director ensure that managing partners of the 
25 initiatives work with partner agencies to develop and document their 
collaborative strategies.

E-Government Initiatives Have Made Progress in Their Initial Stages:

All four of the e-government initiatives that we reviewed have met 
milestones for the early phases of their planned activities. For 
example, Web portals were established for two of the initiatives--
www.geodata.gov for the Geospatial One-Stop initiative and 
www.BusinessLaw.gov for the Business Gateway. In addition, the 
Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative established an online 
capability that federal customers can use to access a variety of 
available interagency contracts. However, while the projects are 
continuing to make progress, some of the tasks they face are 
increasingly challenging, such as e-Payroll's objective of establishing 
governmentwide payroll processing standards or Geospatial One-Stop's 
goal of compiling a comprehensive inventory of geospatial data 
holdings. In July 2003, OMB refocused one initiative, the Business 
Gateway, which had been making slow progress on its previous 
objectives. OMB tied the project's objectives and milestones more 
closely to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act's goal of reducing 
the burden of federal paperwork on small businesses.

e-Payroll:

The goal of the e-Payroll initiative is to substantially improve 
federal payroll operations by standardizing them across all agencies, 
integrating them with other human resource functions, and making them 
easy to use and cost-effective. To achieve this goal, plans are to 
consolidate the operations of 22 existing federal payroll system 
providers; simplify and standardize federal payroll policies and 
procedures; and better integrate payroll, human resources, and finance 
functions across federal agencies. OPM, the managing partner for e-
Payroll, chose four agencies to be providers of payroll services to all 
116 executive branch agencies. The four selected providers are GSA and 
the Departments of Defense, Interior, and Agriculture. The initiative 
is divided into two major phases: (1) migrating each of the 18 
nonselected payroll system providers to one of the four selected 
providers by September 2004 and (2) defining an enterprise architecture 
consistent with the Federal Enterprise Architecture model and 
identifying technology solutions to replace legacy systems. Figure 2 
shows the partners and affected parties for the e-Payroll initiative.

Figure 2: Partners and Affected Parties for the e-Payroll Initiative:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Of the 22 executive branch agencies that currently operate payroll 
systems, 6 also provide payroll services to other agencies. The four 
providers selected by OPM--GSA, Defense's Defense Finance and 
Accounting Service, Interior's National Business Center, and 
Agriculture's National Finance Center--handle more than 70 percent of 
all federal civilian payroll processing and accommodating more than 190 
different pay plans. According to OPM, many of the 22 current providers 
use custom-built systems that have been in operation for many years and 
need to be replaced. Two of the largest providers needing system 
replacement estimated the costs of implementing new systems at $46 to 
$600 million per system. Conversely, OPM estimates that consolidating 
current federal payroll systems would yield savings of approximately 
$1.1 billion over the next 10 years. These savings would result from 
reducing operating costs, eliminating duplicative systems investments, 
and simplifying payroll processing.

According to OPM project management documents, major phase one 
objectives of the initiative include (1) defining governance for the 
initiative, (2) standardizing payroll policies, (3) establishing an e-
Payroll enterprise architecture, and (4) overseeing consolidation of 
agency payroll operations. The first major project deliverable--
establishing governance--was completed in June 2002, as scheduled. The 
providers have been selected and a migration schedule established for 
nonselected agencies. However, the other actions have been delayed. 
Standardization of policies, originally scheduled for completion in 
June 2002, is currently ongoing. The enterprise architecture planning 
task and the initial phase of agency consolidations were both scheduled 
to begin in October 2002 but were not initiated until January 2003. 
According to the project manager, these schedule deviations have not 
led to a significant delay in the overall progress of the initiative 
toward the goal of consolidating the 22 payroll providers to 4 by 
September 2004. However, migrating the operations of the 18 nonselected 
providers to the selected providers, which began in February 2003, 
could pose new challenges, because previously unidentified 
discrepancies among agency policies may come to light.

Geospatial One-Stop:

Geospatial One-Stop is intended to promote coordination of geospatial 
data collection and maintenance across all levels of government. 
Geospatial data--data associated with a geographic location--can be 
analyzed and displayed through geographic information systems (GIS) to 
aid decision makers at all levels of government. For example, the 
Department of Health and Human Services uses GIS technology to analyze 
data on population and topography (including roads, streams, and land 
elevation) in order to track the spread of environmental contamination 
through a community. Using the power of GIS to coordinate and integrate 
disparate kinds of geospatial data can lead to better-informed 
decisions about public investments in infrastructure and services--
including national security, law enforcement, health care, and the 
environment--as well as a more effective and timely response in 
emergency situations. The specific objectives of the Geospatial One-
Stop initiative include (1) deploying an Internet portal for one-stop 
access to geospatial data; (2) developing a set of data standards for 
seven types of geospatial data; (3) creating an inventory of federal 
data holdings; and (4) encouraging greater coordination among federal, 
state, and local agencies about existing and planned geospatial data 
collection projects.

The Department of the Interior is the managing partner agency for the 
initiative. Other federal partners include the Departments of 
Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, and Transportation; 
the Environmental Protection Agency; and the National Aeronautics and 
Space Administration. Stakeholders include nonpartner federal 
agencies, the International City/County Management Association, the 
Intertribal GIS Council, the National Association of State Chief 
Information Officers, the National States Geographic Information 
Council, the National Association of Counties, the National League of 
Cities, and the Western Governors Association. Figure 3 shows the 
partners and affected parties for the initiative.

Figure 3: Partners and Affected Parties for the Geospatial One-Stop 
Initiative:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The Geospatial One-Stop initiative has made progress toward achieving 
its four objectives. In June 2003, the first publicly available version 
of the Internet portal was made available online at www.geodata.gov. 
The portal is intended to serve as a single access point for users 
seeking links to geospatial data that were previously online but not as 
easily accessible. The portal was originally scheduled to go online in 
2004, based on work being performed by the Open GIS 
Consortium.[Footnote 6] However, OMB accelerated this schedule by 
requiring that the portal be operational by May 2003. In order to have 
a portal operational within this time frame, the board agreed to turn 
near-term work over to ESRI, Inc., which developed the portal based on 
modifications to an existing portal it had built for Interior's Bureau 
of Land Management.[Footnote 7] Project officials now plan to make use 
of the Open GIS Consortium's development work to enhance 
www.geodata.gov in 2004.

Regarding the second objective--data standards development--project 
officials developed draft versions of each of the planned standards on 
schedule in 2003. In most cases the drafts are simplified version of 
older standards developed by and for federal agency use. The draft 
standards were provided for informal public review and comment on the 
Geospatial One-Stop Web site. By the end of September 2003, project 
officials had submitted these drafts to the American National Standards 
Institute, where formal public review will be conducted and the 
standards will be finalized. Project officials expect the standards to 
be approved in 2004.

Progress in developing an inventory of federal geospatial data 
holdings--Geospatial One-Stop's third objective--has been limited. OMB 
Circular A-11 required that by the end of February 2003, agencies make 
accessible and searchable for posting on the Internet metadata[Footnote 
8] about all data sets with a replacement cost exceeding $1 million. 
Potential users of geospatial data sets need metadata to determine 
whether the data are useful for their purposes and to be aware of any 
special stipulations about processing and interpreting the data. An 
initial inventory of 256,000 existing federal data sets was assembled 
and made available through the Geospatial One-Stop portal when it was 
implemented in June 2003, and the Geospatial One-Stop Web site provides 
an online tool to assist agencies in documenting their geospatial 
metadata. However, the extent to which agencies have met requirements 
for submitting metadata is unknown. According to the project's metadata 
coordinator, agencies may not be aware of their responsibilities for 
posting metadata about their geospatial submissions. To address this 
issue, the project team is planning to take steps to improve 
communication with federal agencies to help ensure that they understand 
their responsibilities for making geospatial data publicly accessible.

To encourage greater coordination among federal, state, and local 
agencies about existing and planned geospatial data collection projects 
(the initiative's fourth objective), an intergovernmental board of 
directors was established. The purpose of the board is to help ensure 
collaboration among potential stakeholders from all government sectors. 
In addition, a Geospatial One-Stop Web site (www.geo-one-stop.gov) was 
created to provide information about the project, its progress, and its 
benefits; the project's management staff and executive director provide 
briefings across the country to facilitate coordination with states and 
localities; and an outreach coordinator was appointed to further 
communication and coordination among partners and stakeholders.

Integrated Acquisition Environment:

The overall goal of the Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative 
is to create a secure suite of electronic tools to facilitate cost-
effective acquisition of goods and services by federal agencies, while 
eliminating inefficiencies in the current acquisition process. To meet 
this goal, plans are to (1) consolidate common acquisition functions 
through a shared services environment; (2) leverage existing 
acquisition capabilities within agencies to create a simpler, common, 
integrated business process for buyers and sellers that promotes 
competition, transparency, and integrity; and (3) develop cross-agency 
standards to eliminate duplication of effort and redundancy of data. 
GSA is the managing partner agency. In addition, 31 other federal 
agencies are considered participating partners in the initiative. 
Figure 4 shows the partners and affected parties for this initiative.

Figure 4: Partners and Affected Parties for the Integrated Acquisition 
Environment Initiative:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Regarding its first objective of consolidating common acquisition 
functions through a shared services environment, the project was 
generally on schedule at the time of our review, although several 
interim milestones were completed later than scheduled. An example of 
one of the tasks within this objective is the development of 
"eMarketplace," an online capability intended to provide federal 
customers a single access point to interagency contracts and electronic 
catalogs for goods and services. In July 2002 an initial operational 
directory structure for interagency contracts was completed, and in May 
2003 the directory was made available online for agencies to populate 
with their contract data. The development of the directory structure 
had been scheduled for December 2002, but it was delayed because the 
approval process required to make changes to federal acquisition 
regulations was lengthier than had been anticipated.

Overall there have been no significant deviations from the planned 
schedule for tasks within the second objective, leveraging existing 
agency acquisition capabilities to create a common, integrated business 
process for buyers and sellers. For example, the Integrated Acquisition 
Environment's Business Partner Network, based on the Department of 
Defense's Central Contractor Registration system, is intended to 
provide a single point of registration, validation, and access for 
grantees, federal entities, and companies seeking to do business with 
the federal government. Since March 2002, the project team has been 
working to develop this network to serve as a single source for vendor 
data for the government, to integrate data with other vendor-based 
systems in the government, and to establish a process for verifying 
vendor information with third parties, such as vendors' Taxpayer 
Identification Numbers with the Internal Revenue Service. In February 
2003, as scheduled, the Business Partner Network completed the 
development of an online system that allows contractors to enter their 
representations and certification information once for use on all 
government contracts. Previously, vendors were required to submit 
representations and certification individually for each large purchase 
contract award.

Initial work addressing the project's third objective--developing 
cross-agency standards to eliminate duplication of effort and 
redundancy of data--was also on schedule at the time of our review. The 
standards to be developed under this objective include data elements, 
business definitions, interfaces, and agency roles and responsibilities 
regarding government acquisition data. These standards are expected to 
serve as a foundation for redesigning the current inefficient process 
of government-to-government transactions by streamlining ordering, 
billing, and collection and improving reconciliation of 
intragovernmental transactions. Since March 2002, the project team has 
been working on the first task of the standards development process--
developing a map of current acquisition practices and defining future 
acquisition processes. According to project managers, the project team 
completed this task by the end of September 2003.

The implementation phase for the Integrated Acquisition Environment 
project is scheduled for completion by December 2004. While GSA had 
successfully completed several scheduled milestones at the time of our 
review, other major tasks lie ahead. These tasks include (1) ensuring 
that the online directory of contracts is populated and kept up to 
date, which will require all federal agencies to submit their data into 
the directory in a standardized format; (2) deploying commercial 
standards to facilitate interaction among shared acquisition systems, 
between shared systems and agency systems, and between shared systems 
and vendor systems; and (3) redesigning and deploying government-to-
government transactions, which calls for standard procedures and common 
data elements to integrate disparate systems and processes across the 
federal government.

Business Gateway:

The Business Gateway[Footnote 9] is a cross-agency, intergovernmental 
effort to create a Web services portal that reduces the burden on small 
businesses by making it easier for them to find, understand, and comply 
with governmental laws and regulations. It is intended to provide small 
businesses with one-stop access to information about federal, state, 
and local laws and regulations and how to comply with them. More 
specifically, the Business Gateway is intended to help businesses find 
information on laws and regulatory requirements, provide assistance 
through automated tools designed to help businesses understand their 
regulatory obligations, and transact business by supporting online 
permit applications and licensing tools. The initiative is focused on 
four functional areas--environmental protection, workplace health and 
safety, employment, and taxes--as well as several specific industries, 
including trucking and mining. SBA is the managing partner agency. 
Other federal partners include the Environmental Protection Agency; the 
Department of Labor and its component agency, the Occupational Safety 
and Health Administration; GSA; the Internal Revenue Service; and the 
Departments of Transportation, Energy, Interior, and Homeland Security. 
Nonfederal partners include trade associations and state chief 
information officers from Washington, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, 
Iowa, and New Jersey. Figure 5 shows the partners and affected parties 
for this initiative.

Figure 5: Partners and Affected Parties for the Business Gateway 
Initiative:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The initiative was originally planned to be implemented in two separate 
phases. Phase one was to consist of implementing www.BusinessLaw.gov, a 
Web portal intended to serve as a single place for finding "plain 
English" legal guides and legal and regulatory information links from 
all 50 states and compliance assistance in 17 areas, such as workplace 
safety or environmental protection. This phase was completed when the 
portal became operational in December 2001. The second phase was to 
make the portal more interactive and broader in focus. More 
specifically, phase two objectives included (1) developing a navigation 
tool known as a "portal maximizer," intended to enhance access to laws 
and regulations by helping users to quickly find relevant information 
from large amounts of data; (2) offering a range of automated 
compliance assistance tools for specific kinds of regulations, as well 
as a "profiler"[Footnote 10] to identify applicable tools; and 
(3) prototyping a transaction engine for integrated business 
registration, online licensing, and permitting.

Before the project was refocused in July 2003, SBA had made only 
limited progress toward achieving phase two objectives and was not on 
track to meet its planned 2003 milestones. A pilot version of the 
planned portal maximizer had been implemented, but only four of the 
planned automated compliance assistance tools had been 
developed.[Footnote 11] Project plans called for up to 30 additional 
compliance assistance expert tools to be developed during the second 
phase of the project. The profiler was also behind schedule, with only 
mockups of the planned user interface developed. Work on three 
specialized portals for the trucking, food, and chemical industries was 
also behind schedule. The project manager attributed the incomplete 
progress to a funding shortfall within SBA for fiscal year 2003.

On July 1, 2003, OMB announced that it was refocusing the project to 
reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses. The decision was based 
on the findings of an interagency task force created by OMB in response 
to requirements of the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002. In 
its final report,[Footnote 12] the task force stated that it believed 
the initiative showed promise as a means for achieving the purpose of 
the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act, since it was intended to 
ultimately provide small businesses a single point of entry for 
regulatory compliance information. The refocused project is now aimed 
at creating a gateway for compliance assistance and online transactions 
that would reduce the paperwork burden through integrated electronic 
forms. One of the stated goals of the planned gateway is to increase 
federal agencies' compliance with the Government Paperwork Elimination 
Act[Footnote 13] to at least 75 percent by September 2004. This was to 
be achieved by creating, with the help of GSA, a central online 
repository for federal forms and by consolidating information 
collections and forms with similar data elements. Another goal is to 
reduce redundant data and the overall number of federal forms by at 
least 10 percent.

According to several participating agency representatives, it is 
unclear how the change in the project's focus will affect 
implementation of the previously planned modules, such as the profiler 
and the compliance tools. At the time of our review, no decision had 
been made about what funding or other resources would be made available 
to continue development efforts that had been previously under way as 
part of phase two of the project.

Key Practices Facilitate Interagency Collaboration:

With the increasing focus on collaboration brought about by the move 
toward e-government, there has been a need to identify key 
characteristics that contribute to the success of cross-organizational 
collaborative e-government projects. Based on a review of government, 
private sector, and academic research and guidance,[Footnote 14] we 
identified five broad key practices that can have a significant impact 
on the effectiveness of collaboration across disparate organizations. 
These key collaboration practices could have a significant impact on 
whether the 25 OMB-sponsored e-government initiatives are successful. 
Taken as a whole, these factors can provide an interorganizational 
project team with the fundamentals for an effective collaborative 
process.

* Establishing a collaborative management structure. Building a 
collaborative management structure across participating organizations 
is an essential foundation for ensuring effective collaboration. 
According to the literature we reviewed, strong leadership is critical 
to the success of intergovernmental initiatives. Involvement by leaders 
from all levels is important for maintaining commitment and keeping a 
project on track. Defining a comprehensive structure of participants' 
roles and responsibilities is also a key factor. For example, according 
to a 1998 study by the Intergovernmental Advisory Board,[Footnote 15] a 
project to develop a nationwide law enforcement information system was 
successful due to the establishment of a policy board responsible for 
coordination and partnership within the law enforcement community. The 
board's members represented law enforcement organizations at all levels 
of government, and the board provided a structure and process to ensure 
a voice for each member of the partnership.

* Maintaining collaborative relationships. Once a collaborative 
management structure is in place, well-defined, equitable working 
relationships must be developed and take root in order to ensure 
effective ongoing collaboration. Researchers have found that all the 
partners in a collaborative undertaking need to share a common vision 
and work in a climate of trust and respect in order to elicit full 
participation. An important element of establishing effective 
collaborative relationships is to reach formal agreements with each 
partner organization on a clear purpose, expected outputs, and 
realistic performance measures. For example, in an intergovernmental 
project led by the state of Pennsylvania to enhance its vehicle 
emissions program, a broad coalition of stakeholder groups representing 
government, private businesses, and special interest groups were 
directly involved in selecting a strategy and designing the program. 
According to a GSA study of the project,[Footnote 16] the participants 
worked well together and endorsed the process primarily because all 
views were considered seriously and many suggestions were incorporated.

* Contributing resources equitably. The responsibility for meeting a 
project's resource requirements needs to be equitably distributed among 
project participants. In order to facilitate a collaborative 
environment, each participating organization should contribute 
resources in the form of human capital or funding to demonstrate its 
commitment to the success of the project. In addition, formal processes 
to collect these resources from partner agencies--such as written 
agreements to document the resource contributions expected from each 
partner--are useful to support this practice. According to a study 
performed by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation,[Footnote 17] a 
collaborative group needs to consider the resources of its members. 
Similarly, partner organizations must be prepared to devote substantial 
staff hours to the collaborative effort.

* Facilitating communication and outreach. Another key element of 
effective collaboration is developing and implementing effective 
communication and outreach mechanisms. Tools that clearly communicate 
the project status and needs among all partners should be used 
continuously, targeting all partner organizations and their key 
decision makers. In addition, effective outreach mechanisms are 
important to keep other stakeholders informed who may not be actively 
involved in developing systems or business processes, and an outreach 
plan may be needed to specify tasks and mechanisms to help promote 
interest and participation in the project. For example, while working 
on a collaborative project to reduce highway fatalities, the Department 
of Transportation implemented a knowledge-sharing management portal to 
facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between the Federal 
Highway Administration and the states. This communication tool proved 
to be effective in ensuring widespread and frequent communication and 
was subsequently implemented in other transportation 
communities.[Footnote 18]

* Adopting a common set of standards. Developing a common set of 
standards that are agreed to and used by all project partners is a key 
factor for effective collaboration. Such standards provide a basis for 
more seamless systems, data, and business process integration on 
collaborative projects, and help to ensure that those systems and 
processes can work together. Specifically, ensuring that there are 
processes in place by which project partners can select and agree upon 
standards and that all partners are adopting them are key factors in 
establishing these essential common standards. In GSA's Government 
Without Boundaries program, which provided a virtual pool of government 
information and services, all stakeholders agreed to a technical 
approach for interoperability and implemented a demonstration to prove 
the concept.[Footnote 19]

These five key practices and their major elements are summarized in 
table 1.

Table 1: Key Collaboration Practices and Their Major Elements:

Key practice: Establish a collaborative management structure; Major 
elements: Strong leadership is present among partners.

Major elements: Involvement of all leadership levels is an instituted 
practice.

Major elements: Partner/stakeholder roles and responsibilities are 
clearly defined, agreed to, and understood by participants.

Key practice: Maintain collaborative relationships; Major elements: A 
common vision is shared among partners.

Major elements: A climate of trust and respect is fostered through open 
communication.

Major elements: Formal agreements with a clear purpose, common 
performance outputs, and realistic performance measures are used to 
provide a firm management foundation.

Key practice: Contribute resources equitably; Major elements: Formal 
processes to contribute human capital and funds, such as written 
agreements, ensure that needed resources are promised and delivered.

Key practice: Facilitate communication and outreach; Major elements: 
Communication strategies facilitate two-way communication among the 
project team, partners, and other stakeholders.

Major elements: Outreach programs keep those affected by the initiative 
informed of new developments and provide structured means for feedback 
and questions.

Key practice: Adopt a common set of standards; Major elements: 
Processes are in place by which partners can discuss, develop, and 
agree to common standards needed for initiative success.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

Initiatives Have Achieved Varying Degrees of Collaboration:

The four initiatives we reviewed have all taken steps to promote 
collaboration with their partner agencies. However, none of the 
initiatives has been fully effective in collaborating with important 
stakeholders. In comparing the four initiatives' ongoing and planned 
activities with the key collaboration practices, we identified 
significant accomplishments as well as shortcomings and potential 
challenges. For example, regarding two key practices (establishing a 
collaborative management structure and contributing resources 
equitably) we found that three of the four initiatives--e-Payroll, 
Geospatial One-Stop, and Integrated Acquisition Environment--had taken 
actions that met planned objectives or that stakeholders found to be 
effective. However, regarding another key practice--facilitating 
communication and outreach--an equal number (Geospatial One-Stop, 
Integrated Acquisition Environment, and Business Gateway) had not taken 
all the steps they could. The four initiatives have all faced short 
time frames to accomplish their tasks, and they generally have not 
fully adopted key collaboration practices because of other competing 
priorities. However, without involving important stakeholders, the 
initiatives increase the risk that they will not fully achieve their 
objectives or the broader goals of the President's management agenda.

e-Payroll:

OPM has taken positive steps to facilitate collaboration among the e-
Payroll initiative's partners, such as (1) establishing a management 
structure with well-defined partner agency roles and responsibilities 
and (2) including the four provider agencies in its effort to identify 
a common set of payroll standards for the federal government. However, 
OPM has not fully addressed concerns raised as part of the 
collaborative process, including concerns about potential changes to 
payroll standards that may be required for the final migration to the 
two provider partnerships. Interagency collaboration on developing a 
common set of payroll standards is particularly important because 
federal agencies operate under a variety of legislative mandates that 
have complex requirements for payroll processing, all of which must be 
fully addressed in the new standards. In table 2, we provide an 
overview of the initiative's implementation of the key collaboration 
practices that we identified earlier, followed by a discussion of each 
of the practices.

Table 2: e-Payroll Implementation of Key Collaboration Practices:

Key practice: Establishing a collaborative management structure; e-
Payroll implementation: OPM has successfully established a 
collaborative management structure.

Key practice: Maintaining collaborative relationships; e-Payroll 
implementation: OPM is more successful at maintaining collaborative 
relationships with payroll providers than with other stakeholders.

Key practice: Contributing resources equitably; e-Payroll 
implementation: OPM has developed a plan to ensure that resources are 
contributed equitably.

Key practice: Facilitating communication and outreach; e-Payroll 
implementation: Payroll providers report that OPM's efforts at 
communication and outreach have been effective.

Key practice: Adopting a common set of standards; e-Payroll 
implementation: OPM has begun an effort to collect views on common 
standards but faces potential challenges in reaching governmentwide 
agreement.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

* Establishing a collaborative management structure. OPM has provided 
guidance to its partner agencies that defines roles and 
responsibilities and specifies those partners' responsibilities with 
respect to their collaborative relationships with their payroll 
customers. For example, in memorandums of agreement with the four 
selected payroll providers, OPM defined the structure that would be 
used to manage the project. The management structure includes the four 
provider agencies, a payroll advisory council with 11 representatives 
from different federal agencies, different functional areas (such as 
human resources, IT, and financial management), and OMB. In addition, 
OPM developed a plan that outlines the content of service level 
agreements between payroll providers and their agency clients. 
According to the plan, such agreements should detail both the scope of 
client services and performance expectations for the service provider 
and should specifically address issues such as change management, 
billing procedures, and support services. Officials from the Department 
of Agriculture's National Finance Center and the Department of the 
Interior's National Business Center, two of OPM's four partner 
agencies, cited this project management approach as successful in 
promoting collaboration on the e-Payroll project.

* Maintaining collaborative relationships. OPM has taken steps to 
develop and maintain collaborative relationships with its partners and 
other federal stakeholders. OPM established a group with 
representatives from the four payroll providers, which holds regular 
meetings to address project status and other initiative issues. 
Officials from three of the four provider agencies told us that this 
group has been very effective in affording them the opportunity to 
discuss common issues and concerns.[Footnote 20] Specifically, 
Interior's National Business Center representative told us that this 
forum allowed the federal payroll providers to discuss standardizing 
and implementing two recent governmentwide payroll actions--the 
initiation of flexible spending accounts (a program of optional pretax 
health and dependent care savings accounts for federal employees) and a 
retroactive federal pay raise for the first part of 2003--resulting in 
a consolidated governmentwide time frame for the availability of these 
features. In order to elicit full participation, all partners in a 
collaborative undertaking need to share a common vision and work in a 
climate of trust and respect. One way to create such an environment is 
by ensuring that all stakeholder concerns are articulated and fully 
addressed. However, according to one stakeholder, OPM has not always 
effectively addressed concerns by agencies being affected by e-Payroll 
consolidation. Specifically, the director of the Payroll/HR Systems 
Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) told us that his 
department was not allowed enough time to make a complete evaluation of 
payroll providers before OPM finalized its decision to align the 
department with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. VA had 
advised OPM in writing that it had concerns that needed to be resolved 
before the selection of a provider was finalized. According to VA 
projections, migrating to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service 
would be both costly and inefficient, because VA would have to separate 
its payroll system from its human resources system. However, OPM's 
written responses did not directly address VA's concerns but instead 
emphasized that time available to reconsider the decision was short. 
For example, in a letter dated January 14, 2003, OPM informed VA that a 
business case justifying VA's position would have to be prepared and 
submitted within 2 days. While OPM exercises the ultimate authority in 
deciding how payroll operations are to be consolidated, it could put e-
Payroll's overall schedule at risk by not fully considering and 
responding to stakeholder concerns.

* Contributing resources equitably. OPM has instituted a collaborative 
strategy for financing the e-Payroll project that includes guidance 
identifying the responsibilities of partner and other participating 
agencies for contributing resources for the e-Payroll initiative. For 
example, OPM's plan for financing the consolidation of payroll service 
providers and the migration of agency payroll operations to designated 
service providers states that the provider agencies are to recover the 
costs of their operations from fees levied on their customers as 
defined in service level agreements. In addition, OPM's plan relied on 
OMB to apportion funds to the providers for migration expenses by 
identifying agency funding contributions in fiscal years 2003 and 2004. 
The intent was to redirect funding that had been planned for upgrades 
or other payroll system operations and maintenance to support the 
governmentwide effort. In keeping with this intent, officials from 
Energy, Health and Human Services, and the Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission reported that they were using funds earmarked for upgrade 
and maintenance of payroll systems to finance migration costs.

* Facilitating communication and outreach. The e-Payroll management 
team has taken steps to facilitate effective communication of project 
status and needs. For example, OPM began by inventorying stakeholders 
to identify those affected by the initiative and then developed a plan 
for communicating with them. The resulting communications plan 
identified a variety of methods for conveying project information to 
affected parties, including direct meetings, workshops, telephone 
contact, and formal letters to agency heads regarding significant 
decisions relating to the initiative. OPM also held a governmentwide 
forum intended to provide information about e-Payroll to agencies and 
facilitate interaction among the executive branch agencies and the 
selected providers. In addition, three of the four designated payroll 
providers reported that attending the quarterly provider conferences 
and participating in biweekly conference calls sponsored by OPM were 
effective communications mechanisms.

* Adopting a common set of standards. Consolidating the existing 22 
federal payroll systems into a single system requires that OPM develop 
a common set of payroll standards that will meet the requirements of 
multiple federal agencies with different missions and legislated 
payroll constraints. OPM has taken steps to help ensure that federal 
agencies have input on development of a common set of standards. For 
example, OPM commissioned a study to identify significant differences 
among the payroll processes of the existing 22 providers. 
Representatives of agencies from a cross section of the executive 
branch, including all four of OPM's partners--the selected payroll 
providers--participated in the study. The resulting 87 payroll 
standardization opportunities were provided to federal agencies for 
review and comment.[Footnote 21] OPM received approximately 250 
comments and suggestions for action from federal agencies on the 
standardization opportunities that it identified. These agencies' 
comments show the complexity of the standardization tasks that OPM and 
its partners have yet to undertake--from proposing new legislation to 
addressing union negotiations. According to OPM officials, a focus 
group was established in July 2003 to further analyze the previously 
identified opportunities and develop recommended solutions. Officials 
told us that standardizing the payroll process is an ongoing process 
and that work to develop a single payroll standard would continue with 
input from other federal agencies. Although OPM has involved its 
partners and other federal agencies in the process of identifying 
opportunities for standardization, it still faces the challenging task 
of getting federal agencies to reach agreement on a single payroll 
standard that they all can use. As agencies migrate to consolidated 
payroll providers, changes may need to be made either to the providers' 
payroll processes and standards--so that the various payroll mandates 
can be accommodated--or to the mandated requirements themselves, so 
that agencies can conform to a single standard. Fully identifying and 
assessing the impact on agencies of potential payroll standards will be 
a challenging effort. For example, VA's Acting Deputy Assistant 
Secretary for Finance expressed concern that OPM officials might not 
appreciate the complexities of administering payroll systems under 
Title 38 of the United States Code[Footnote 22]--the legislation that 
governs VA's payroll processes--and that changes would be necessary to 
support VA's payroll processing once it migrates to its new payroll 
provider. According to an OPM study, in addition to Title 38, there at 
least 13 other sets of legislated federal payroll provisions that will 
need to be reviewed and addressed before consolidated federal payroll 
systems can be implemented.[Footnote 23] Without effective interagency 
collaboration, changes mandated by OPM may not fully address agencies' 
individual payroll processing requirements, increasing the risk that 
agencies will not be able to migrate as planned to their new payroll 
providers. In commenting on a draft of this report, OPM officials 
stated that they have taken steps to ensure that a collaborative 
process was in place for payroll standards development, based on 
establishing a focus group of cross-agency representatives within the 
Payroll Advisory Council. If supported by a detailed strategy, OPM's 
action may help to address this issue.

The e-Payroll initiative has achieved initial progress based in part on 
an effective collaborative management structure and collaborative 
relationships with its designated payroll providers. However, the issue 
regarding consideration of VA's concerns could have an adverse impact 
on the success of the project as migration of agency payroll operations 
progresses. Furthermore, unless OPM places increased emphasis on 
collaboration as governmentwide standards are developed and 
consolidation of payroll systems progresses, it will be at increased 
risk that the consolidated systems will not meet the needs of all 
federal agencies.

Geospatial One-Stop:

Ensuring effective collaboration on Geospatial One-Stop is a 
significant challenge. In addition to the eight federal agencies 
designated as partners, the project's stakeholders include thousands of 
state and local governments, as well as other nonpartner federal 
agencies. State and local agencies perform key functions in collecting 
and managing geospatial data--it is estimated that about 90 percent of 
geospatial data is collected by state and local governments, and that 
those governments invest over twice as much as the federal government 
to collect and maintain such data. Consequently, states' and 
localities' participation in the Geospatial One-Stop initiative is 
critical. Interior has taken steps to include nonfederal stakeholders 
on the project. For example, it established an intergovernmental 
management structure, conducted briefings at meetings and conferences 
across the country to promote stakeholder participation, appointed an 
outreach coordinator to facilitate communication with stakeholders, and 
included states and localities in drafting national geospatial data 
standards. However, given the large number of stakeholders, Interior 
has not yet ensured that many states and localities are involved in the 
project. In addition, although Interior has collaborated with its 
partners and other stakeholders in developing draft geospatial 
standards, it has not taken steps to ensure that those standards will 
be used by a majority of the project's federal, state, or local 
stakeholders. Table 3 is an overview of the key collaboration practices 
as implemented by the Geospatial One-Stop initiative, followed by 
further discussion.

Table 3: Geospatial One-Stop Implementation of Key Collaboration 
Practices:

Key practice: Establishing a collaborative management structure; 
Geospatial One-Stop implementation: Interior has established a board of 
directors that includes federal and nonfederal stakeholders.

Key practice: Maintaining collaborative relationships; Geospatial One-
Stop implementation: Partners and stakeholders largely have not 
established formal agreements outlining a common vision and roles and 
responsibilities for collaborative relationships.

Key practice: Contributing resources equitably; Geospatial One-Stop 
implementation: Although partner agencies initially did not contribute 
funds as projected, they have made planned contributions in fiscal year 
2003.

Key practice: Facilitating communication and outreach; Geospatial One-
Stop implementation: Despite a range of outreach efforts, many state 
and local governments are not participating, apparently because they do 
not perceive the benefits to outweigh the effort and expense of doing 
so.

Key practice: Adopting a common set of standards; Geospatial One-Stop 
implementation: Participation in drafting standards has been limited, 
with many states and almost all counties and cities not participating. 
Further, achieving consistent implementation of the standards across 
levels of government will be challenging.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

* Establishing a collaborative management structure. Geospatial One-
Stop includes eight federal partners and thousands of other 
stakeholders--over 3,000 counties, over 18,000 municipalities, and the 
50 states, as well as other federal agencies that are not partners on 
the project. To help ensure that nonfederal stakeholders have a voice 
in the direction of the project, Interior established an 
intergovernmental board of directors that votes on significant 
decisions, such as selection of the portal architecture and 
establishment of project schedule dates. Two-thirds of the votes are 
held by state, local, and tribal representatives, and one-third by 
federal partner agencies. Establishment of the board has worked well to 
facilitate collaborative intergovernmental management and oversight of 
the Geospatial One-Stop initiative. For example, at recent board 
meetings, members discussed issues such as the status of the 
initiative, standards concerns, and the management structure of the 
initiative as reflected in its most recent business case. The 
representative to the board from the National States Geographic 
Information Council told us that state, county, and municipal levels of 
government were well represented and played a useful role in providing 
alternative views about the direction of the initiative.[Footnote 24]

* Maintaining collaborative relationships. While Geospatial One-Stop 
has established a management structure to facilitate collaboration, it 
has made less progress in defining working relationships among its 
collaborative partners. One positive step was the development of a 
charter for the project's board of directors, which discusses 
authority, responsibilities, voting procedures, and coordinating 
mechanisms for the board members. The charter was signed by each of the 
board's members. However, at the time of our review, other than this 
charter, only one memorandum of understanding had been established 
regarding collaborative relationships--an agreement on coordinating 
GIS standards related to homeland security, which was signed by the 
Federal Geographic Data Committee, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the 
National Imagery and Mapping Agency. Without formal agreements among 
the Geospatial One-Stop project partners, it may be difficult to 
sustain a shared vision for the project and ensure that progress is 
being made toward achieving its objectives.

* Contributing resources equitably. While Geospatial One-Stop initially 
had difficulty obtaining resource contributions from federal partner 
agencies, these early problems have largely been resolved. According to 
the executive director, partner agencies did not contribute funds for 
fiscal year 2002 as had been projected in the project's capital asset 
plan, even though the agencies had been involved in preparing the plan. 
Instead, Interior provided all fiscal year 2002 funds for the project. 
For fiscal year 2003, the capital asset plan estimated that Interior 
would contribute about $2.2 million, while the other seven partner 
agencies would contribute the remaining $6.2 million. According to a 
project official, all agencies have made their planned contributions. 
The availability of funds from partner agencies in fiscal year 2003 has 
allowed Geospatial One-Stop to complete several tasks on schedule, such 
as deploying the initial version of the www.geodata.gov portal and 
submitting draft national geospatial data standards to the American 
National Standards Institute.

* Facilitating communication and outreach. The Geospatial One-Stop 
project team uses a number of different mechanisms to communicate 
information about the project to potential stakeholders and the public. 
For example, the project management team established a Web site that 
provides information such as minutes of the board of directors 
meetings, links to partners' and other stakeholders' Web sites, 
geospatial data standards, and the most recent Geospatial One-Stop 
business case. The executive director and other Geospatial One-Stop 
project members also provide briefings and question-and-answer sessions 
at conferences and participate in other forums to provide information 
about the project to other stakeholders. The project's executive 
director attended the midyear meeting of the National States Geographic 
Information Council, where he provided a briefing and a luncheon talk 
about Geospatial One-Stop to all attendees and addressed the attendees' 
questions and concerns. In addition, the initiative's project team, in 
conjunction with the National Association of Counties, the National 
League of Cities, and the International City/County Managers 
Association, conducted a survey of local governments to gather 
information about the extent of respondents' use of geospatial data and 
the reasons why such data are not being used more extensively by those 
governments. Despite these measures, according to state GIS officials 
the project has not yet gained participation from other governments 
because they may not perceive it to be beneficial to undertake the 
effort and expense of documenting and making available local geospatial 
data for inclusion in the www.geodata.gov portal. For example, the 
executive director of Vermont's Center for Geographic Information, 
Inc., told us that he did not know whether Vermont's geospatial data 
holdings were being considered for inclusion in Geospatial One-Stop and 
that the benefits of participation had not been well communicated. In 
addition, Montana's GIS coordinator told us that Montana had not yet 
committed to participate in the project and that state government 
officials did not understand the benefits of participating. According 
to the Geospatial One-Stop Capital Asset Plan, Interior is planning to 
provide incentives for state, local, and tribal governments to 
participate, although the project's executive director told us that 
carrying out these plans is contingent on approval of funding. Also, in 
a draft of Interior's fiscal year 2005 plan, several planned actions to 
accomplish these tasks have been identified. Planned actions include 
providing funding to help state, local, and tribal organizations to 
become more engaged in intergovernmental geospatial activities and 
establishing a liaison program with funding to local stakeholder 
associations to work with Geospatial One-Stop and serve as a liaison 
between federal agencies and those associations. In addition, according 
to the Geospatial One-Stop outreach coordinator, other efforts not 
provided in the initiative's capital asset plans include identifying 
opportunities to promote geospatial information as part of the state 
and local government policy efforts and enhance outreach in other areas 
of the project, such as standards development and management of the 
portal. However, there are no plans to develop a formal outreach plan 
for the Geospatial One-Stop initiative. Unless a detailed plan is 
documented and implemented for conducting effective outreach, state and 
local geospatial information may remain inaccessible through the 
Geospatial One-Stop portal, significantly reducing the usefulness of 
the portal as a central access point for such data.

* Adopting a common set of standards. Interior has taken steps to 
collaboratively develop a set of basic standards to support the 
collection of interoperable geospatial data for the Geospatial One-Stop 
initiative. Specifically, project participants have drafted standards 
for seven types of data[Footnote 25] as well as a base standard, with 
participants from other federal agencies, states, localities, the 
private sector, and academia participating in their development. 
However, participation in the standards-setting process has been 
limited. Several large nonpartner federal agencies--such as the 
Departments of Treasury, Justice, and Health and Human Services--were 
not represented on the standards development effort. In addition, local 
government representation included only 23 counties and 3 cities. As a 
result, the risk is substantial that many federal and local 
stakeholders may not adopt the proposed standards because those 
standards may not meet their needs. Further, definition of the 
standards is only the first step in realizing their benefits; 
Geospatial One-Stop has not addressed the challenge of gaining 
consistent implementation of the standards across governments--a key 
factor in effective collaboration. Many states and localities have 
already established Web sites that provide a variety of location-
related information services, such as updated traffic and 
transportation information, land ownership and tax records, and 
information on housing for the elderly, using existing commercial 
products that are already meeting their needs. Hence these 
organizations are likely to have little incentive to adopt potentially 
incompatible standards that could require substantial new investments. 
According to Arizona's state cartographer, many local governments 
currently do not comply with existing federal standards because most of 
their GIS applications were created primarily to meet their internal 
needs, with little concern for data sharing with federal systems. If 
designated standards are not widely adopted, geospatial data could 
continue to be collected in incompatible formats and systems, 
preventing officials from gaining the benefits of better-informed 
decisions about public investments in infrastructure and services based 
on an integrated view of geospatial information.

While the Geospatial One-Stop project established a significant 
collaborative management structure in its broadly representative board 
of directors, the project has not fully adopted other key collaborative 
practices. It faces significant challenges in obtaining participation 
from thousands of potential project stakeholders and obtaining their 
agreement on and implementation of geospatial data standards. Such 
participation will be difficult to achieve without a more structured 
and rigorous outreach effort to involve federal, state, and local 
government agencies.

Integrated Acquisition Environment:

The General Services Administration has taken steps to ensure that a 
variety of mechanisms are in place to facilitate collaboration on the 
Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative. For example, the project 
team developed a formal charter outlining the objectives, tasks, and 
roles and responsibilities of project partners, and it is in the 
process of completing implementation of memorandums of agreement with 
all participating agencies to further define their roles and financial 
responsibilities. In addition, GSA has developed a communication 
strategy for the initiative to help ensure that partners and 
stakeholders are informed. However, that strategy does not include key 
financial decision makers throughout the government, although our 
research shows that such officials should be informed of project status 
and needs on a continuous basis. Finally, GSA's plans for developing 
standards for the federal acquisitions process are in line with the key 
practices that we identified. Table 4 provides an overview of the 
initiative's collaboration practices, followed by further discussion.

Table 4: Integrated Acquisition Environment Implementation of Key 
Collaboration Practices:

Key practice: Establishing a collaborative management structure; 
Integrated Acquisition Environment implementation: Interagency 
development of a charter established a common foundation for 
collaboration, and the use of subteams to develop project modules 
facilitates collaboration at the working level.

Key practice: Maintaining collaborative relationships; Integrated 
Acquisition Environment implementation: Effective collaboration 
mechanisms have been established, including memorandums of agreement 
that define partners' roles and funding contributions, as well as 
regular weekly meetings of business area teams and project managers.

Key practice: Contributing resources equitably; Integrated Acquisition 
Environment implementation: GSA has been successful in obtaining 
allotted resource contributions from most of its participating partner 
agencies.

Key practice: Facilitating communication and outreach; Integrated 
Acquisition Environment implementation: A detailed communication plan 
and a range of outreach efforts have been effective at promoting 
collaboration, but key financial decision makers--the Chief Financial 
Officers--have not been included.

Key practice: Adopting a common set of standards; Integrated 
Acquisition Environment implementation: The project team is planning to 
use commercial standards to develop proposed standard interfaces and to 
distribute them to the federal procurement community for comment.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

* Establishing a collaborative management structure. The project team 
established a charter for the Integrated Acquisition Environment 
initiative that all partners and stakeholders agreed to during the 
initial phase of the project. According to the project manager, the 
interagency development of and agreement to the initiative's charter 
allowed the project team to collectively establish a common foundation 
for working collaboratively on the initiative. In addition, the project 
management team established a structure of subteams responsible for 
leading development within each of five project modules defined in the 
charter. The subteams consist of representatives from at least 22 
agencies who are tasked with serving as the primary liaisons between 
their agencies and the project management team. This well-defined 
subteam structure can contribute to effective collaboration at the 
working level among the many agencies involved in the project. Further, 
GSA is in the process of developing a comprehensive change management 
plan to be completed in early 2004. This plan is to address stakeholder 
involvement through the use of multi-agency, cross-functional teams at 
the executive level and collaborative design of the system through 
business area teams populated with partner agency representatives.

* Maintaining collaborative relationships. The project management team 
is in the process of establishing memorandums of agreement with each 
partner agency; these agreements further define each partner's role and 
expected funding contributions. As of September 2003, memorandums of 
agreement had been signed with 21 agencies, 3 were near completion, and 
7 remained to be completed. In addition, GSA officials reported that 
several collaborative forums for Integrated Acquisition Environment 
stakeholders were in place. For example, business area teams and 
project managers hold regular weekly meetings, which serve to reinforce 
collaborative relationships that cut across organizational boundaries. 
In addition, an Industry Advisory Board provides industry perspectives 
on priority needs, requirements, best practices, and trends. Officials 
from 10 partner and stakeholder agencies that we contacted indicated 
that the project's collaboration mechanisms were effective.

* Contributing resources equitably. To date, the project has been 
successful in obtaining resource contributions from most of its partner 
agencies. According to GSA officials, as of September 2003, 94 percent 
of requested funds had been received. According to the project 
managers, GSA anticipates that all participating partner agencies will 
contribute their allotted amounts in fiscal year 2004.

* Facilitating communication and outreach. The Integrated Acquisition 
Environment's project team has taken a number of concrete steps to 
build communication and outreach among partners and stakeholders. For 
instance, the team has developed a detailed communication plan that 
clearly identifies their audience, as well as various communication 
tactics, such as creating e-mail news updates, participating in 
"industry days," meeting with agencies' senior officials, and 
contributing content to the press. Project officials also established 
an online workspace where participants can share information, organize 
conferences to share information with private industry, and hold 
regular team meetings. According to comments from several participants 
and interested parties, these strategies are effective in providing 
necessary information regarding the initiative. Interior's deputy 
assistant secretary for performance and management, for example, noted 
that these measures have been effective at promoting collaboration by 
focusing on sharing information and generating agency support for the 
initiative. However, the project team has not included all stakeholders 
that it could in its communication and outreach efforts. Specifically, 
Chief Financial Officers (CFO) of partner and stakeholder agencies, who 
make key decisions about financial contributions to the initiative, 
said they had not been included and consequently have not been kept up 
to date about the objectives and requirements of the initiative. 
Representatives of the partner agency CFOs provided suggestions that 
highlighted shortcomings in GSA's communications with the financial 
community to date. For example, Treasury's CFO noted that the specific 
objectives of the initiative should be communicated to senior financial 
managers so that they understand how the initiative will support the 
missions of their organizations. According to the assistant CFO for the 
Department of Housing and Urban Development, the project team could 
more effectively reach the financial community by interacting regularly 
with the federal CFO Council, a mechanism established as a focal point 
for financial management issues in the federal government. According to 
the Integrated Acquisition Environment's project managers, increased 
support from the CFOs could increase the likelihood of partner agencies 
contributing funds to the initiative. These officials told us that they 
are working to better include financial decision makers in future 
project communications by updating the project's communication plan to 
include agencies' CFOs and coordinating more actively with the CFO 
council as new project modules are developed. In commenting on a draft 
of this report, GSA officials stated that GSA has scheduled discussions 
about the initiative with a cross section of CFOs and plans to invite a 
representative of the CFO Council to participate in the Integrated 
Acquisition Environment governance body. However, at the time of our 
review, these actions had not yet been completed. Without taking such 
an inclusive approach, the project could be at greater risk of not 
meeting its objectives due to future funding shortfalls.

* Adopting a common set of standards. The lack of standardization in 
government-to-government transactions adds to the complexity and 
inefficiency of the current process. A primary objective of the 
Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative is to establish standard 
data elements, business definitions, interfaces, and roles and 
responsibilities for government acquisitions. Achieving this objective 
is likely to be challenging. Once agreed upon, the new standards are 
expected to streamline the data handling processes, reduce workload, 
improve billing accuracy, and help enforce data stewardship roles and 
responsibilities. The project team's standards development strategy 
includes obtaining comments from as many affected federal agencies as 
possible, which is in line with the key collaboration practices that we 
identified. Having begun by mapping the process currently in place, the 
project team intends in October 2003 to begin using commercial 
standards to develop proposed standard interfaces. As proposed 
standards are developed, the project team plans to distribute them to 
all members of the federal procurement community--128 agencies--for 
comment. The process of addressing these comments and reaching final 
agreement on standards is likely to be challenging, given the number of 
affected agencies.

GSA has adopted a variety of effective collaborative practices that 
have contributed to progress in advancing the goals of the project. 
Like the other initiatives, Integrated Acquisition Environment still 
faces additional challenging tasks, especially in setting standards. 
Involving agency financial decision makers could help reduce the risk 
that agencies may not contribute resources in future years.

Business Gateway:

Collaboration on the Business Gateway project is critical at two broad 
levels. First, several key federal agencies that are responsible for 
business regulation--such as the Departments of Labor and 
Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency--must 
collaborate to make it easier for businesses to access and comply with 
their regulations. Second, the Business Gateway project team must 
collaborate with industry-specific groups that are the subject of 
business regulation--such as truckers and miners--to ensure that the 
planned gateway will meet their needs. In specific areas, such as 
development of the gateway's profiler module, collaboration has been 
successful. However, on the whole, SBA's actions to involve its 
partners and other stakeholders in the Business Gateway initiative have 
not addressed many of the areas that we found to be essential to 
achieving effective collaboration. SBA has not yet taken steps to 
document project responsibilities in interagency agreements, achieve 
equitable resource contributions among partners, or provide adequate 
outreach to partners and potential stakeholders to ensure that they are 
kept fully informed about the project. Table 5 is an overview of the 
key collaboration practices as implemented by the Business Gateway 
initiative, followed by further discussion.

Table 5: Business Gateway Implementation of Key Collaboration 
Practices:

Key practice: Establishing a collaborative management structure; 
Business Gateway implementation: A project charter has been developed, 
but it does not define roles or responsibilities or establish 
collaborative decision-making processes.

Key practice: Maintaining collaborative relationships; Business 
Gateway implementation: Mechanisms have not yet been established to 
maintain collaborative working relationships among partners and 
stakeholders.

Key practice: Contributing resources equitably; Business Gateway 
implementation: Rather than having partners contribute resources, SBA 
is both funding the initiative and controlling decision making, which 
does not encourage participation and collaboration.

Key practice: Facilitating communication and outreach; Business Gateway 
implementation: Although subgroups have displayed effective 
communication practices, projectwide communication and outreach have 
been limited, resulting in key decision makers not being involved.

Key practice: Adopting a common set of standards; Business Gateway 
implementation: The initiative has agreed on common standards, adopting 
existing data and technical standards where available and developing ad 
hoc standards when needed.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

* Establishing a collaborative management structure. To facilitate 
collaboration on the Business Gateway initiative, SBA developed a 
project charter that addresses the goals of the initiative, its 
benefits, project components, and critical success factors. However, 
the charter does not define an interagency approach to managing the 
initiative, discuss participants' roles and responsibilities, or 
establish collaborative decision-making processes. According to the 
Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) representative to the project, the 
charter contains no specific assignment of responsibilities--it was 
developed only to document general support for the concept of the 
initiative. Without a well-defined decision-making process, including 
specified roles and responsibilities, designated partner agencies may 
be unwilling to make significant commitments to supporting the goals 
and objectives of the initiative.

* Maintaining collaborative relationships. SBA has not yet established 
mechanisms to maintain effective relationships with its agency partners 
or other stakeholders. Although it reached agreements in 2002 with four 
of its nine federal partner agencies, those agreements specified 
single, limited-scope project tasks rather than establishing working 
relationships with a common vision for the initiative. For example, 
SBA's memorandum of understanding with IRS was to develop a pilot 
program under which small businesses could apply for Federal Employer 
Identification Numbers via the Internet rather than by mail or fax. 
Similarly, SBA's agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration was to develop a tool to help small businesses comply 
with emergency standards. Further, SBA has not yet established formal 
agreements with organizations that represent small businesses, such as 
the American Trucking Association, the Owner-Operator Independent 
Drivers Association, or the National Private Truck Council--all of whom 
represent the ultimate intended beneficiaries of the initiative's 
services. According to the OMB portfolio manager for government-to-
business initiatives, the project has not been able to establish formal 
collaboration agreements because key management components, such as 
partner agency roles and responsibilities, have not yet been defined. 
Without well-defined mechanisms for collaboration, the project risks 
not meeting the needs of partner agencies or gaining their commitment 
to continue supporting the project.

* Contributing resources equitably. SBA also has not developed a 
strategy for sharing resource commitments across its partner agencies. 
On the contrary, the project manager's strategy has relied solely on 
SBA to fund the initiative. According to the OMB government-to-business 
portfolio manager, SBA's strategy was to promote collaboration by not 
burdening potential partners with financial responsibilities for the 
initiative. However, in taking on all financial responsibility, SBA 
also took control of decision-making responsibility, which reduced 
agency collaboration. Officials from designated partner agencies told 
us that because they did not provide funds for the initiative, they 
have had little input in the decision-making process and, as a result, 
do not have a strong incentive to participate in the Business Gateway. 
Without the involvement of partner agencies, the initiative risks not 
being able to achieve its broader objective of providing small 
businesses with a single integrated source for compliance with federal 
regulations.

* Facilitating communication and outreach. The Business Gateway 
initiative has produced examples of effective communication and 
outreach. For example, SBA designated the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) to take the lead in developing the profiler, which is 
intended to gather information about a user's business (such as type of 
business, number of employees, and so on) to aid in providing focused 
assistance. Based on comments from participating agency 
representatives, EPA has been effective at leading communication and 
outreach for that task. EPA established a cross-agency workgroup that 
meets weekly to discuss progress, make decisions, and address the next 
steps with regard to development of the module. The profiler module 
workgroup members also routinely coordinate via e-mail and telephone, 
and EPA communicates updated information on development of the profiler 
module at projectwide team meetings. Participants in the workgroup told 
us they found that these meetings and briefings by EPA were an 
effective means for collaboration. For example, according to the 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration's representative on the 
profiler workgroup, EPA did an excellent job of facilitating consensus 
as to next steps, specifying what tasks were to be done by 
participants, following up on performance, and relaying information or 
requests from SBA. However, despite subgroup examples such as this, 
communication and outreach by SBA to partners and stakeholders 
projectwide remain limited, with key decision makers not having access 
to up-to-date information about the initiative. For example, according 
to the trucking module leader, key agency decision makers were not 
involved in meetings, conference calls, and monthly workgroup meetings, 
and therefore agency participants were limited in their ability to 
support the initiative because they could not make resource 
commitments. More specifically, federal agency decision makers were 
often not present at meetings where decisions, such as those on the 
costs and schedule, were made for the initiative. As a result, project 
issues could not be effectively discussed and resolved, slowing 
progress and hindering collaboration.

* Adopting a common set of standards. The Business Gateway project team 
has adopted existing data and technical standards when they were 
available. For example, the team examined the technical reference model 
associated with the OMB-sponsored Federal Enterprise Architecture to 
identify relevant standards and ensure that technical elements of the 
gateway were compatible with the Federal Enterprise Architecture. In 
cases where standards were not previously defined, the project team 
either reached agreement or began a process to reach agreement on ad 
hoc standards. For example, EPA and the Department of Energy agreed to 
use the same set of basic key words to direct inquiries by users on 
topics related to environmental protection regulations. These practices 
are in line with key practices that we identified for adopting common 
sets of standards.

The collaboration challenges faced by the Business Gateway project may 
have contributed to the slow progress on recent work. Specifically, the 
lack of well-defined roles and responsibilities may have inhibited the 
stakeholder participation necessary to complete tasks on schedule. The 
lack of shared responsibility for funding the project may have also 
limited stakeholder commitment. In addition, limited communication and 
outreach left key partners and stakeholders ill-informed about the 
initiative's progress and development issues.

Conclusions:

Each of the four e-government initiatives has made progress toward 
achieving its overall objectives. A number of early goals have been 
achieved, including establishing Web portals such as www.geodata.gov 
for the Geospatial One-Stop initiative and www.BusinessLaw.gov for the 
Business Gateway project. All four initiatives rely on cross-agency 
collaboration, and they still have a number of tasks to complete, some 
of which require extensive interorganizational cooperation and could be 
very challenging.

In our assessment of previous research into cross-organizational 
collaboration, five broad key practices emerged as being of critical 
importance. These practices include establishing a collaborative 
management structure, maintaining collaborative relationships, 
contributing resources equitably, facilitating communication and 
outreach, and adopting a common set of standards.

When assessed according to these practices, the record for the four e-
government initiatives is mixed. In some cases, the practices were 
effectively used, whereas in other cases project managers did not take 
full advantage of them. For example, while OPM has taken steps to 
promote close collaboration with its four designated e-Payroll 
providers, it has not fully addressed the concerns of a key stakeholder 
that may be required to make costly changes to its payroll processes 
and policies in response to OPM's decisions. Interior has instituted a 
board of directors for Geospatial One-Stop that includes certain state 
and local representatives, but it has not yet established formal 
agreements with all of its federal partners or developed an outreach 
plan to encourage a broad range of states and localities to participate 
in the initiative. GSA has adopted a variety of effective collaboration 
practices on the Integrated Acquisition Environment project, but it has 
not yet fully involved CFOs from partner agencies. Finally, SBA has not 
yet taken important steps--including defining roles and 
responsibilities, establishing formal agreements with federal partner 
agencies, and establishing a funding strategy based on shared resource 
commitments--to facilitate effective collaboration with its partners 
and stakeholders. Until these issues are addressed, the initiatives may 
be at risk of not fully achieving their goals.

Recommendations for Executive Action:

To enhance the effectiveness of collaboration as a tool for the four e-
government initiatives to use in achieving their goals, we recommend 
that:

* the Director of OPM (1) institute a review and feedback process with 
VA to ensure that its concerns are reviewed and addressed before 
decisions are made that could have a policy or resource impact on 
agency payroll operations, and (2) ensure that a collaborative process 
is in place for development of governmentwide payroll standards;

* the Secretary of the Interior establish formal agreements with 
federal agency partners to clarify collaborative relationships and 
develop an outreach plan for the Geospatial One-Stop initiative that 
includes specific tasks for contacting and interacting with a wider 
range of state and local government GIS officials to facilitate and 
explain the benefits of broad participation in the initiative and 
promote the use of federal geospatial data standards;

* the Administrator, GSA, modify the structure of its working groups 
and other communication mechanisms for the Integrated Acquisition 
Environment initiative to fully include the CFOs of partner agencies 
and better ensure that agreed-upon partner resource contributions are 
made; and:

* the Administrator, SBA, establish a more collaborative management 
structure for the Business Gateway initiative by defining roles and 
responsibilities, establishing formal collaboration agreements with 
federal agency partners, developing a shared funding strategy, and 
implementing projectwide communication and outreach mechanisms to 
ensure that key decision makers at partner agencies are kept informed 
and involved in the management of the project.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

We received written comments on a draft of this report from the 
Director of OPM; Interior's Assistant Secretary Policy, Management and 
Budget; and SBA's Program Executive Officer for e-Government. We also 
received oral comments from the Administrator of GSA. All four agencies 
generally agreed with our discussion of the collaboration challenges 
facing e-government initiatives. In addition, each of the agencies 
provided comments and additional or updated information about 
collaboration activities associated with their initiatives, as well as 
technical comments, which have been incorporated into the final report 
where appropriate.

OPM stated that it was concerned with our assessment that e-Payroll had 
not been fully effective in taking steps to promote collaboration with 
partner agencies. In the report, we noted that OPM has taken steps to 
develop and maintain collaborative relationships with its partners and 
focused our concern on OPM's relationship with VA. Concerning our 
recommendation that OPM institute a review and feedback process with VA 
to ensure that concerns are addressed, OPM reported that such a process 
has been established and that it would continue to hold discussions 
with VA. In addition, concerning our recommendation that OPM ensure 
that a collaborative process is in place for the development of 
governmentwide payroll standards, we noted in the final report OPM's 
position that it has taken steps to help ensure a collaborative 
standards development process by establishing a cross-agency focus 
group to address standards setting issues. If supported by a detailed 
strategy, OPM's actions may help to address the issues we raised. OPM 
also provided technical comments, which we have incorporated as 
appropriate.

Interior stated that it agreed with our assessment that e-government 
projects face many challenges and that Geospatial One-Stop had made 
substantial progress in achieving its initial objectives and goals. 
Interior also acknowledged that it had not resolved all the challenges 
in gaining greater collaboration on the part of the potential 
stakeholders at the state and local levels. Interior stated that, in 
several ways, the draft report had mischaracterized the Geospatial One-
Stop project as being "federal-centric." We do not believe that the 
report characterizes the initiative in this way. Rather, the focus is 
on the challenge of gaining as broad participation as possible from 
state and local representatives, a task that Interior agrees is 
challenging. Interior's Assistant Secretary, Policy, Management and 
Budget, also stated that the agency disagreed that the existence of 
formal agreements is key to sustaining a vision and making progress. 
However, Interior noted in its comments that it had established 
memorandums of agreement or funding agreements with each of its partner 
agencies. Further, our research into key collaboration practices 
revealed that formal agreements with a clear purpose, common 
performance outputs, and realistic performance measures are useful in 
providing a firm management foundation for collaboration.

GSA concurred with our recommendation regarding the Integrated 
Acquisition Environment initiative. GSA provided additional 
information about its planned activities to address our recommendation 
as well as updated information about the status of the initiative. This 
information has been incorporated in the final report as appropriate.

SBA provided several suggested technical corrections to the draft 
report, and we have made those corrections in the final report where 
appropriate. In its comments, SBA officials stated that the project 
manager believed that slow progress in 2003 was due primarily to lack 
of funding from within SBA and the addition of tasks by OMB, rather 
than to any shortcomings in collaboration, and that efforts at 
collaboration had been made until funding for the project became 
problematic. We have clarified in the final report that the funding 
shortfall was within SBA and not due to a lack of funding contributions 
from partner agencies. However, as noted in the report, the fact that 
partner agencies did not share resource commitments for the Business 
Gateway limited their overall commitment to and involvement in the 
project, thus putting the project at risk of not meeting its 
objectives.

:

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents 
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days 
from the date of this report. At that time, we will send copies to the 
Ranking Minority Member, House Committee on Government Reform, and the 
Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Technology, Information 
Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census. In addition, we 
will provide copies to the Directors of OMB and OPM, the Secretary of 
the Interior, and the Administrators of GSA and SBA. Copies will be 
made available to others on request. In addition, this report will be 
available at no charge on the GAO Web site at www.gao.gov.

Signed by:

If you should have any questions concerning this report, please call me 
at (202) 512-6240 or send e-mail to koontzl@gao.gov. Key contributors 
to this report were Shannin Addison, Neha Bhavsar, Barbara Collier, 
Felipe Colón, Jr., Larry Crosland, John de Ferrari, and Elizabeth 
Roach.

Linda D. Koontz: 
Director, Information Management Issues:

Signed by Linda D. Koontz: 

[End of section]

Appendixes: 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology:

Our objectives were to assess (1) the progress that has been made to 
date in implementing the selected initiatives, (2) the major factors 
that can affect successful collaboration on e-government initiatives, 
and (3) the extent to which federal agencies and other entities have 
been collaborating on the selected initiatives.

We considered several factors in selecting the four initiatives for our 
review. These factors included the number of potential collaborating 
agencies, reported costs of the initiatives, variety among the types 
initiative categories (i.e., "government to citizen," "government to 
business," "government to government," "internal efficiency and 
effectiveness," and "cross-cutting"), potential cost savings from 
implementing the initiatives, variety among managing partners, and 
variety among the kinds of stakeholders. Based on a consideration of 
these factors, we selected the following four initiatives: e-Payroll, 
Geospatial One-Stop, Integrated Acquisition Environment, and Business 
Gateway.

To assess the progress of the initiatives, we reviewed capital asset 
plans and other project documentation, conducted interviews with 
project officials, and assessed electronic services made available to 
customers to date. In addition to determining the status of planned 
milestones, we evaluated the progress that had been made in achieving 
the overall objectives of each initiative within the framework of the 
e-government strategy of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

To identify key practices affecting collaboration on e-government 
initiatives, we developed criteria through a review of government, 
academic, and private sector literature on interorganizational 
collaboration. We provided these criteria to officials of OMB's Office 
of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who agreed that the criteria 
were reasonable for assessing collaboration on e-government 
initiatives. Based on these criteria, we summarized individual key 
practices (i.e., those practices that were most commonly cited among 
our sources) into five broad practices: establishing a collaborative 
management structure, maintaining collaborative relationships, 
contributing resources equitably, facilitating communication and 
outreach, and reaching agreement on a common set of standards.

To assess the extent to which federal agencies and other entities were 
collaborating on the selected e-government initiatives, we reviewed 
project documents related to collaboration, such as communication 
strategies and memorandums of understanding. We conducted interviews 
with project managers for each of the initiatives we reviewed, as well 
as with officials from the four managing partner agencies and OMB's 
portfolio managers, to determine collaborative management practices 
that were in place. We also contacted project officials from the 
initiatives' partner agencies, as well as the National States 
Geographic Information Council (regarding Geospatial One-Stop) and 
representatives from small business associations (regarding Business 
Gateway). We collected information from these entities to determine the 
extent to which key collaboration practices were being used effectively 
for the four initiatives we studied.

Our work was conducted from December 2002 to September 2003 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

[End of section]

Appendix II: Source Materials for Key Collaboration Practices:

Following are the source documents that we consulted in identifying the 
key collaboration practices described in the body of the report.

GAO Reports:

Program Evaluation: An Evaluation Culture and Collaborative 
Partnerships Help Build Agency Capacity. GAO-03-454. Washington, D.C.: 
May 2, 2003.

Results-Oriented Management: Agency Crosscutting Actions and Plans in 
Drug Control, Family Poverty, Financial Institution Regulation, and 
Public Health Systems. GAO-03-320. Washington, D.C.: December 20, 2002.

Results-Oriented Management: Agency Crosscutting Actions and Plans in 
Border Control, Flood Mitigation and Insurance, Wetlands, and Wildland 
Fire Management. GAO-03-321. Washington, D.C.: December 20, 2002.

September 11: More Effective Collaboration Could Enhance Charitable 
Organizations' Contributions in Disasters. GAO-03-259. Washington, 
D.C.: December 19, 2002.

At-Risk Youth: School-Community Collaborations Focus on Improving 
Student Outcomes. GAO-01-66. Washington, D.C.: October 10, 2000.

Head Start and Even Start: Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of 
Adult Education and Literacy. GAO-02-348. Washington, D.C.: March 29, 
2002.

Human Services Integration: Results of a GAO Cosponsored Conference on 
Modernizing Information Systems. GAO-02-121. Washington, D.C.: January 
31, 2002.

Defense Health Care: Collaboration and Criteria Needed for Sizing 
Graduate Medical Education. GAO/HEHS-98-121. Washington, D.C.: April 
29, 1998.

Federal Agency Studies:

Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress. Federal 
Interagency Coordination Mechanisms: Varied Types and Numerous Devices. 
July 22, 2002. http://www.congress.gov/erp/rl/pdf/RL31357.pdf (viewed 
July 2003).

Federal Enterprise Architecture Working Group. E-Gov Enterprise 
Architecture Guidance. Draft-Version 2.0. July 25, 2002. http://
www.feapmo.gov/resources/E-Gov_Guidance_Final_Draft_v2.0.pdf (viewed 
July 2003).

Federal Highway Administration, Office of Travel Management, Office of 
Operations (Department of Transportation). The Practice of Regional 
Transportation Operations Collaboration and Coordination. May 7, 2003. 
www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/RegionalTransOpsCollaboration/note.htm (viewed 
August 2003).

Food and Drug Administration (Department of Health and Human Services). 
An Agency Resource for Effective Collaborations: The Leveraging 
Handbook. June 2003. www.fda.gov/oc/leveraging/handbook.pdf (viewed 
July 2003).

General Services Administration. Building Blocks for Successful 
Intergovernmental Programs. August 29, 2001. www.gsa.gov/Portal/
content/pubs_content.jsp?contentOID=119122&contentType=1008 (viewed 
July 2003).

Hodges, S., T. Nesman, and M. Hernandez. Promising Practices: Building 
Collaboration in Systems of Care. A special report prepared at the 
request of the Department of Health and Human Services. 1999. 
www.mentalhealth.org/cmhs/ChildrensCampaign/PDFs/1998monographs/
vol6.pdf (viewed July 2003).

Institute for Educational Leadership. Building Effective Community 
Partnerships. A special report prepared at the request of the Office of 
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice 
Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org/resources/
files/toolkit1final.pdf (viewed July 2003).

Intergovernmental Advisory Board (General Services Administration). 
Federal, State and Local Government Experiences: Foundations for 
Successful Intergovernmental Management. October 1998. www.gsa.gov/
cm_attachments/GSA_PUBLICATIONS/Main_8_R2AV262_0Z5RDZ-i34K-pR.doc 
(viewed July 2003).

Joint Chiefs of Staff (Department of Defense). Concept for Future Joint 
Operations: Expanding Joint Vision 2010. May 1997. www.dtic.mil/
jointvision/history/cfjoprn1.pdf (viewed July 2003).

Joint History Office, Joint Chiefs of Staff (Department of Defense). 
The History of the Unified Command Plan 1946-1993. February 1995. 
www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/history/ucp.pdf (viewed July 2003).

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Department of 
Transportation). Keys to Success: State Highway Safety and EMS Agencies 
Working Together to Improve Public Health. August 2000. 
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/ems/pub3/index.htm (viewed July 2003).

Office of Intergovernmental Solutions, General Services 
Administration, Government Without Boundaries: A Management Approach to 
Intergovernmental Programs (May 23, 2002).

Office of Regulatory Affairs, Food and Drug Administration (Department 
of Health and Human Services). Partnership Agreements. October 2002. 
www.fda.gov/ora/partnership_agreements/pa_model.htm (viewed July 
2003).

Rinehard, Tammy A., Anna T. Laszlo, and Gwen O. Briscoe. Collaboration 
Toolkit: How to Build, Fix, and Sustain Productive Partnerships. A 
special report prepared at the request of U.S. Department of Justice, 
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. 2001. 
www.cops.usdoj.gov/default.asp?item=344 (viewed July 2003).

International, State, and Local Agency Studies:

Biedell, Jeff, David Evans, Daniela Ionova-Swider, Jonathan 
Littlefield, John Mulligan, and Je Ryong Oh. Facilitating Cross Agency 
Collaboration. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. 
December 2001. www.estrategy.gov/documents/fall_report-
collaboration_121101.pdf (viewed July 2003).

Center for Technology in Government. Tying a Sensible Knot: Best 
Practices in State-Local Information Systems, Executive Briefing, 2001. 
University at Albany/SUNY.

Collaboration: Because It's Good for Children and Families: A Wisconsin 
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FOOTNOTES

[1] Geospatial data are any data associated with a geographic location.

[2] Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-198).

[3] The E-Government Task Force originally selected 23 initiatives in 
September 2001. A 24TH, e-Payroll, was then added by the President's 
Management Council. In 2002, a decision was made to separate one 
initiative into two individual projects, resulting in the current count 
of 25 projects. 

[4] Office of Management and Budget, E-Government Strategy (Washington, 
D.C.: Feb. 27, 2002).

[5] U.S. General Accounting Office, Electronic Government: Selection 
and Implementation of the Office of Management and Budget's 24 
Initiatives, GAO-03-229 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 22, 2002). 

[6] The Open GIS Consortium, Inc., is an international industry group 
of 258 companies, government agencies, and universities that develop 
open systems specifications for processing geospatial information. 

[7] The Bureau of Land Management's portal, www.geocommunicator.gov, 
was developed using commercial off-the-shelf software provided by the 
Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI).

[8] Metadata are information describing the content, quality, 
condition, and other characteristics of data, such as when they were 
collected or the coordinate system they are based on.

[9] Until July 1, 2003, the Business Gateway project was known as 
Business Compliance One-Stop.

[10] The profiler is intended to gather information about a user's 
business and use the information to identify relevant compliance 
assistance tools and resources. The system uses a set of online, 
standardized questions to prompt users to provide information such as 
type of business, number of employees, location, and whether it is a 
new or existing business.

[11] The four tools that were implemented include (1) the Alien 
Employee Visa Classification eTool, (2) the Emergency Evacuation 
Procedures eTool, (3) the Auto Dismantler & Recycler Environmental 
Audit Advisor, and (4) the Motor Vehicle Waste Disposal Wells Advisor.

[12] Office of Management and Budget, Final Report of the Small 
Business Paperwork Relief Task Force (Washington, D.C.: June 27, 2003).

[13] Public Law 105-277, Div. C, tit. XVII.

[14] Appendix II provides a complete list of the collaboration sources 
that we reviewed for our study.

[15] Intergovernmental Advisory Board (General Services 
Administration), Foundations for Successful Intergovernmental 
Management: Federal, State and Local Government Experiences (October 
1998), 54-55.

[16] Foundations for Successful Intergovernmental Management: Federal, 
State and Local Government Experiences, 21-22. 

[17] Collaboration: What Makes It Work, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 
second edition (2001), 27.

[18] Industry Advisory Council, e-Government Shared Interest Group, 
Cross-Jurisdictional e-Government Implementations (September 2002), 
16-17.

[19] Office of Intergovernmental Solutions, General Services 
Administration, Government Without Boundaries: A Management Approach to 
Intergovernmental Programs (May 23, 2002).

[20] The fourth provider, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, 
did not respond to our request for information.

[21] Examples of "standardization opportunities" include such things as 
establishing a standard official payday each pay period for the entire 
federal government and consolidating all employees to one biweekly pay 
cycle.

[22] 38 U.S.C., Part V, Chapter 74--Veterans Health Administration--
Personnel.

[23] Office of Personnel Management, e-Payroll Initiative: Plan for 
Standardization of Federal Payroll Policy, Revision 1 (Washington, 
D.C.: Jan. 13, 2003).

[24] The National States Geographic Information Council is an 
organization of states that promotes the adoption and use of geographic 
information technologies. Members include state GIS coordinators, 
senior state GIS managers, and representatives from federal agencies, 
local government, the private sector, academia, and other professional 
organizations.

[25] The seven types are transportation, hydrography, government units, 
geodetic control (supporting a common coordinate system), elevation, 
digital orthoimagery (having the characteristics of a map and the image 
of a photograph), and cadastral (relating to land ownership).

[26] Gartner studies are available for purchase at the Gartner Web 
site, www.gartner.com.

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