E-government projects aim to simplify paperwork for feds

Some of the administration's e-government initiatives will put pay and other human resources information online, making life much easier for federal employees, an Office of Management and Budget official said Friday.

At least six of the administration's 24 e-government initiatives will put electronic training, travel, records management and payroll resources at workers' fingertips, according to Mark Forman, associate director of information technology and e-government at OMB, speaking at an e-government conference on Friday. The initiatives aimed at federal workers will also include a one-stop recruitment center and information on simplifying the acquisitions process.

The goal is to "simplify and unify" internal agency procedures that have become inefficient, Forman said. New hires would no longer have to fill out 15 or more forms asking for overlapping, redundant information, he said. And workers could complete training from their desks, which would cost less than if agencies sent employees to courses outside the agency.

"What we envision, is a suite of human resources applications that cover the entire life cycle of government employees," said David McClure, vice president of e-government at the Council for Excellence in Government, a good government group.

The "life cycle" for employees begins with recruitment, where a centralized online "recruitment center" will provide personnel offices with the tools they need to hire candidates and job seekers with the latest information about job openings. Once hired, workers who needed a security clearance could move through the system more quickly, Forman said.

Other initiatives would create a standard e-payroll system across agencies, reduce the amount of paperwork employees have to fill out for government travel, and make the acquisition process less cumbersome. The initiatives will eventually give federal workers access to all of the financial planning resources and other tools needed to complete work rapidly, Forman said.

While technology to implement the envisioned initiatives is not completely in place, Forman said he is impressed with the progress he has seen. Getting project managers to agree on a basic vision for the projects was work enough, he added.

Forman praised leaders of the e-payroll initiative for narrowing down their search for software providers to four potential vendors. Forman also praised golearn.gov, an online training site that more than 20,000 employees used in the first two months after its launch in July.

But a lot of work remains before the programs are up and running, McClure cautioned. "The concept is great, but the implementation is difficult," he said.

Forman said that he will encourage project managers at different agencies to coordinate with one another and work as a team to develop a business model that cuts down on costs by sharing resources among the agencies. Good teamwork and support from agency executives will be the key to making the e-gov initiatives work, he said.

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