Electronic Government:

Government Paperwork Elimination Act Presents Challenges for Agencies

AIMD-00-282: Published: Sep 15, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) and how it enables citizens to interact with the federal government electronically, focusing on: (1) the status of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) efforts to develop guidance implementing GPEA; and (2) major challenges or impediments that might affect successful GPEA implementation.

GAO noted that: (1) as required by GPEA, OMB has developed and issued useful guidance and procedures for implementing and reporting on GPEA efforts; (2) in May 2000, OMB issued guidance which calls for agencies to: (a) examine business processes that might be revamped to employ electronic documents, forms, or transactions; (b) identify customer needs and demands; (c) consider the costs, benefits, and risks associated with making the transition to electronic environments; and (d) develop plans and strategies for recordkeeping and security; (3) the guidance requires each agency to develop and submit to OMB a GPEA implementation plan and schedule by October 2000; (4) in July 2000, OMB issued final reporting requirements for agencies to follow in preparing these plans and schedules; (5) in addition, OMB's May 2000 guidance directed several agencies to develop more detailed policies and guidance relevant to certain aspects of GPEA; (6) while the guidance being developed will assist agencies in GPEA implementation, these documents alone will not ensure successful outcomes; (7) agencies must address a variety of information technology (IT) management challenges that are fundamental to the success of GPEA; and (8) agencies will need to: (a) use disciplined investment management practices to ensure that the full costs of providing electronic filing, recordkeeping, and transactions prompted by GPEA are identified and examined within the context of expected benefits; (b) adequately plan for and implement computer network and telecommunications infrastructure and technical architectures to provide the capacity and connectivity needed to support the electronic traffic generated by new or enhanced electronic offerings; (c) provide a secure computing environment to support the broad array of electronic government (e-government) services envisioned by GPEA in order to reduce the risks of unauthorized access, which could lead to fraud, theft, destruction of assets, and service disruptions; (d) develop adequate capabilities for creating, storing, retrieving, and, when appropriate, disposing of electronic records; and (e) overcome two basic challenges related to IT human resources--a shortage of skilled IT workers and the need to provide a broad range of staff training and development--so that staff can effectively operate and maintain new e-government systems, adequately oversee related contractor support, and deliver responsive service to the public.

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