Poor Showing by Agencies in E-Gov Initiatives

Federal agencies returned a pretty poor showing for e-government in the latest scorecard on the President's Management Agenda's initiatives, with three agencies dropping their ranking to unsatisfactory. But maintaining success is more difficult now than ever, said Karen Evans, administrator for e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget, requiring the efforts of both contractors and agency officials.

According to the OMB's scorecard for the fourth quarter of 2005, ending September 30, six agencies dropped in status: the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and NASA to yellow, signifying "mixed results;" the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice to red, signifying "unsatisfactory."

"If you look at the scorecard, you'd say 'gosh; what happened this quarter?'" Evans said during a session at Input's FedFocus conference. "But it really is hard to be green [status]. Agencies that sustain green aren't staying at the same level [in initiatives], they're continuing to move forward."

With each passing quarter, the standards for success developed by the President's Management Council have become more difficult to achieve. While green status might have required attending planning meetings a couple of quarters ago, Evans said, now agencies are required to demonstrate results via tangible benefits to citizens. "This is really holding agencies accountable. It's about saying what we mean, and meaning what we say. It's about meeting expectations."

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That holds true not just for the 25 criteria e-government initiatives are measured against, but other watchdog policies and expectations that OMB holds over the heads of federal agencies. There are the other management initiatives tracked on the scorecard--including competitive sourcing and price/performance integration; the lines of business, and effective use of earned-value management. Frankly, agencies need help, Evans said. Not only can integrators assist in actually rolling out initiatives, they can also speak to realistic expectations and what steps are involved in reaching them.

"So far it's been a lot of planning, and now we need to see if [projects] are real," Evans said. "This is a partnership moving forward, not only within agencies but also with industry [helping] initiatives succeed."