Electronic Government:

Initiatives Sponsored by the Office of Management and Budget Have Made Mixed Progress

GAO-04-561T: Published: Mar 24, 2004. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 2004.

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Linda D. Koontz
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One of the five priorities in the President's Management Agenda is the expansion of electronic (e-) government--the use of Internet applications to enhance access to and delivery of government information and services. To this end, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has sponsored 25 high-profile e-government initiatives. The initiatives were selected on the basis of value to citizens, potential improvement in agency efficiency, and the likelihood of being deployed within 18 to 24 months. In May 2002, a total of 91 objectives were set for these initiatives. At the request of Congress, GAO assessed the progress of the initiatives in addressing these 91 objectives as well as key challenges they have faced.

Overall, mixed progress has been made in achieving the 91 objectives originally defined for the 25 OMB-sponsored e-government initiatives. To date, 33 have been fully or substantially achieved; 38 have been partially achieved; and for 17, no significant progress has been made towards these objectives. In addition, 3 of the objectives no longer apply because they have been found to be impractical or inappropriate. Examples of initiatives that have made good progress in achieving their objectives include Grants.gov, which established a Web portal that, as of February 2004, allowed prospective grants applicants to find and apply for a total of 835 grant opportunities at 29 grant-making agencies; and the Integrated Acquisition Environment, which created a single point of registration and validation for vendors and a directory of interagency contracts that currently references 16,000 contracts. A contrasting example is Project SAFECOM, which has made very limited progress over the past 2 years, largely because management teams for the project have changed four times among three different federal agencies. Given that OMB's stated criteria in choosing these initiatives included their likelihood of deployment in 18 to 24 months, the substantial number of objectives that are still unmet or only partially met indicates that making progress on these initiatives is more challenging than OMB may have originally anticipated. The extent to which the 25 initiatives have met their original objectives can be linked to how they have addressed key challenges, including (1) focusing on achievable objectives that address customer needs, (2) maintaining management stability through executive commitment, (3) collaborating effectively with partner agencies and stakeholders, (4) driving transformational changes in business processes, and (5) implementing effective funding strategies. Initiatives that have overcome these challenges have generally met with success in achieving their objectives, whereas initiatives that have had problems dealing with these challenges have made less progress.

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