E-government is still a key part of the President's management plan, Mark Forman, the recently appointed associate director for information technology and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, said Tuesday. Speaking at a meeting of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association's Washington chapter in Arlington, Va., Forman said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York have not dimmed the prospects of creating an electronic government. In fact, Forman said, the federal government will need the help of technology to bridge communications gaps among agencies and provide real-time, security-related information more than ever before. "We are now looking at how we can leverage knowledge management technologies in threat and disaster response," he said. "We need real-time threat information. We need to know who's making what decisions at what time." Forman said that when Tom Ridge, the new director of the White House's Office of Homeland Security, realizes how many agencies are involved in recognizing and responding to threats of terrorism, he will understand the scope of the information technology problem he faces. "He will need OMB then. He still has to get funding," Forman said. Forman repeated his call for agencies to simplify and unify their IT systems. He asked agencies to eliminate duplicative systems and unify agency information around customers. As OMB proceeds with the 2002 budget and begins work on the 2003 budget, Forman said agencies must present well-reasoned business cases for new IT projects. Successful business cases should analyze multiple alternatives and must consider IT security from the outset. "Security is critical," he said. Forman urged agencies to avoid superficial improvements and to move away from just making their processes Web-enabled. Instead, he called for transformation. Managers with good ideas that are being brushed aside by leadership should come directly to OMB, he said. Forman said the President's Management Council is looking at ways of better managing $400 million worth of IT investments across 29 agencies. The council will describe its efforts to eliminate redundant federal IT investments on Thursday.
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