OMB touts savings from e-gov initiatives

Agencies report shutting down more than 100 systems in governmentwide consolidation.

President Bush's electronic government initiatives saved agencies $508 million in costs during the 2007 fiscal year, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The goal of e-government is to "improve services to citizens, to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the government and to provide savings to the taxpayer," according to OMB's memorandum. To achieve those goals, the Bush administration is developing governmentwide IT services provided by one agency or service provider to manage cross-agency functions such as payroll, training and travel management.

As more agencies migrate toward common IT solutions, OMB expects agencies to save money by replacing or retiring aging, and more expensive to operate, legacy systems. According to a release from OMB this week, 43 legacy systems were slated to be shut down from the second quarter of fiscal 2007 to the first quarter of fiscal 2008. Agencies say they plan to shut down another 74 as of the second quarter of fiscal 2008. Some include payroll systems at the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, and travel management systems for the departments of Energy, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

"The primary goal of e-gov was not to save money; it was to provide citizens with more data and transparency" about government operations, said Tim Young, associate administrator for e-government and information technology at OMB. "Saving money was a secondary or tertiary goal."

Young said OMB calculated the $508 million figure by taking the baseline budget number for systems expected to be affected by e-gov initiatives ($7.3 billion) and subtracting the actual costs of those programs in fiscal 2007 ($6.8 billion).

The release marked the first time the administration has told the public about the savings data realized through the e-government initiative. Young said OMB would likely release the savings figure for fiscal 2008 around the same time next year.

Also included in the release was an analysis of the line of business spending for fiscal 2008 and the projection for fiscal 2009.

For fiscal 2009, spending on lines of business development, modernization and enhancement is projected to be $25 billion, slightly lower than the $25.4 billion spent in fiscal 2008. Karen Evans, administrator for e-government and IT at OMB, said the decrease was due in part to the increasing adoption and use of cross-governmental initiatives by agencies.

The lines of business include the Federal Health Architecture, which received the largest increase in spending, $1.5 billion in fiscal 2009, up from $1.2 billion in fiscal 2008. Projected spending on the Human Resources Management line of business decreased to $508 million from $442 million. But OMB praised the program for continuing to make progress in standardizing and consolidating IT systems. The program uses public and federal providers and encourages departments to migrate to Shared Service Centers, which often serve more than one agency.