White House balks at Senate confirmation for e-gov chief

The White House generally supports legislation that would create an e-government chief's position at the Office of Management and Budget, but Bush officials are balking at a provision that requires the official to be confirmed by the Senate.

The legislation, known as the E-Government Act (H.R. 2458), passed the Senate in June and is awaiting action in the House. Besides creating the e-government position-which mirrors the current role of Mark Forman, assistant director for information technology and e-government at OMB-the measure also requires agencies to protect the privacy of citizens using federal Web sites and reauthorizes the 2000 Government Information Security Reform Act, which is set to expire Nov. 29.

OMB supports these measures, but opposes Senate confirmation for the e-government chief, in part because of the lengthy confirmation process for presidential appointees, said Mark Everson, deputy director for management at OMB.

"We think it's time for executive branch officials to be able to get on the job quicker," he said at a hearing of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy on Wednesday. "People coming from the private sector are used to fast-moving change, not six-month delays," he said.

When asked by a reporter if he would recommend that President Bush veto the bill over the confirmation provision, Everson demurred. "I haven't thought of that," he said. "But that's the one provision about which we're most concerned."

Industry officials strongly urged the committee to create a position for a federal chief information officer who would be capable of streamlining duplicative IT systems at federal agencies. Roger Baker, a former CIO at the Commerce Department who is now executive vice president at CACI International, said Commerce spends an average of $7,000 each year in IT support costs for every desktop computer at the department. Simply consolidating the numerous help desks in the department into one infrastructure could save more than $130 million annually, he said.

OMB has resisted creating a federal CIO with powers equal to the agency's deputy director for management, but Forman has led an effort to crack down on duplicative IT spending at agencies slated to move to the proposed Homeland Security Department.

The e-government bill also provides a statutory foundation for the federal Chief Information Officers Council, which is made up of agency CIOs. It requires agencies to conduct "privacy impact assessments" before collecting information from visitors to government Web sites, a technique that has already been used by the Postal Service and Internal Revenue Service.

The bill also requires agencies to make sure that people without internet access can still access government information. Roughly 46 percent of the U.S. population was not using the internet in September 2001, according to testimony from Linda Koontz, director of information management issues at the General Accounting Office.

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chair of the Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, praised the e-government bill but said he would look to add measures to simplify information technology acquisition and improve IT training for federal employees.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.