OMB report shows mixed progress on technology initiatives

In the past year, the federal government met major information technology milestones and saw increased use of e-government services by citizens, businesses and agencies, according to a report released Monday by the Office of Management and Budget.

Titled "Expanding E-Government: Improved Service Delivery for the American People Using Information Technology," the report assessed progress in 2005 and set goals for the coming year.

All 25 of the reviewed agencies had "effective" enterprise architectures, or systems designed to eliminate redundancies in business functions, processes and technologies, the report stated.

OMB reported that 21 of the 25 agencies had acceptable business cases for IT systems projects, exceeding the 2005 goal of having passable cases at three-quarters of the agencies. The 2006 goal is to have acceptable business cases at 90 percent.

Agencies failed to meet a collective 2005 goal of having inspectors general accredit 90 percent of IT systems as being secure, and have re-adopted this goal for the coming year, OMB said. The report also noted that the agencies failed to meet, and re-adopted, a goal of half of them closing identified skill gaps in IT-related areas.

The report stated that agencies continue to work toward meeting an industry standard of keeping operational costs, schedules and performance outcomes for IT projects within a 10 percent average of what was originally planned, and have re-adopted a goal of half of agencies meeting this standard.

The report also touched on performance on the e-government component of the President's Management Agenda. There are four agencies with the top status of a "green" light on the quarterly scorecard rating management agenda accomplishments, OMB noted: the departments of Transportation and Labor, the Small Business Administration and the National Science Foundation.

No mention was made of downgrades to the scores of six agencies on the most recent scorecard.

Fred Thompson, vice president for management and technology at the Council for Excellence and Government, said he does not view the scorecard downgrades as conflicting with OMB's upbeat conclusions in the report.

"With the scorecards, part of the issue is that they keep upping the bar," Thompson said. "This is a way of looking at not just how are we doing against the latest stretch goal, but how far have we gone."

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., a key supporter of the 2002 E-Government Act, was similarly optimistic about progress indicated in the report. "We've accomplished much these past three years, but we can and should do more, especially in the area of cyber-security," he said. "If the government continues to use technology to its advantage, it will prove to be the best vehicle we have for the creation and maintenance of good government."

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