Bush’s point man on e-gov calls for simpler systems

The Bush administration's point man for electronic government said Thursday he is taking aim at complex and scattered federal information technology systems. Mark Forman, the newly appointed associate director for information technology and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, called on agencies to simplify and unify their IT systems in remarks at the E-Gov 2001 conference in Washington Thursday. In his new position, Forman said he hopes to accelerate the creation of an electronic government and presented it as a way of using digital technology to transform government operations in order to improve service delivery, effectiveness and efficiency. Forman's vision places increased emphasis on interagency cooperation to leverage technology investments. Agencies should reduce the burden of the federal government on citizens and businesses, he said, by capturing data once and then sharing it among multiple agencies. Such sharing is required under the 1998 Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA), e-government's key legislative driver, he said. Forman supported agency knowledge management projects and the increased implementation of e-business technologies for the management of customers, supply chains and procurements. He said it is hard to gauge just how much the federal government spends on IT. He said the amount lies between $45 billion and $70 billion per year. In any case, Forman said, "we may even be spending too much on IT right now." Forman asked agencies to look at their IT projects and consider whether they are spending wisely. "In IT we have some chronic problems to deal with," he said. One of these, he said, is overlapping or duplicative IT efforts. Forman said good IT managers pay extra attention to business cases and information architectures. "Technology does not replace good management," he said. In the near term, agencies should be looking at how they can leverage IT systems to simplify their processes. "I view e-government efforts as government reform efforts," Forman said. "Still, such efforts have to have clear measures and be aligned with agency performance. Remember, it's about the business."
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