Electronic Government:

Success of the Office of Management and Budget's 25 Initiatives Depends on Effective Management and Oversight

GAO-03-495T: Published: Mar 13, 2003. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2003.

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A key element of the President's Management Agenda is the expansion of electronic government (e-government) to enhance access to information and services, particularly through the Internet. In response, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established a task force that selected a strategic set of initiatives to lead this expansion. GAO previously reviewed the completeness of the information used for choosing and overseeing these initiatives, including business cases and funding plans.

E-government offers many opportunities to better serve the public, make government more efficient and effective, and reduce costs. To achieve these goals, the 25 e-government initiatives selected by OMB's Quicksilver task force focus on a wide variety of services, aiming to simplify and unify agency work processes and information flows, provide one-stop services to citizens, and enable information to be collected on line once and reused, rather than being collected many times. For example, Recreation One-Stop is a Web portal for a single point of access to information about parks and other federal, state, and local recreation areas. Other initiatives are being pursued that do not necessarily rely on the Internet, such as the e-Payroll initiative to consolidate federal payroll systems. GAO's review of the initial planning documents for the initiatives highlights the critical importance of management and oversight to their success. Important aspects--such as collaboration and customer focus--had not been addressed in early program plans for many of the projects, and major GAO's review of the initial planning documents for the initiatives highlights the critical importance of management and oversight to their success. Important aspects--such as collaboration and customer focus--had not been addressed in early program plans for many of the projects, and major uncertainties in funding and milestones were not uncommon. As shown by GAO's comparison of the content of the initiatives' business cases with best practices, all the business cases included key information, but many elements were missing. In particular, fewer than half addressed collaboration and customer focus, despite the importance of these topics to e-government strategy and goals. Similarly, the accuracy of estimated costs in the funding plans was questionable: between May and September 2002, these estimates for 12 of the initiatives changed significantly--by more than 30 percent. Accurate cost, schedule, and performance information is essential to ensure that projects are on schedule and achieve their goals.

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