E-Government Act compliance progressing

Agencies have made progress in implementing key sections of the act, GAO says.

While agencies are making progress in implementing some of the provisions in the 2002 E-Government Act, several statutory requirements have not been fulfilled, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In a report (GAO-05-12) examining the first two titles of the act, the watchdog agency reported that the Office of Management and Budget has successfully established an Office of E-Government and has issued a memo explaining how to request money from the e-government fund. OMB published guidance in August 2003 for agencies on implementation of the act and submitted the first annual e-government report to Congress in March 2004.

Of the 18 major sections of the first two parts of the act, OMB and other agencies have implemented seven and have started on another seven. The four remaining sections have not been fully addressed, according to GAO.

The law's provisions include a requirement that all federal courts establish Web sites by April 2005 and provide documents electronically by April 2007. According to the report, 198 federal courts had launched Web sites by June 2004, and 128 were allowing access to documents online as of August 2004.

The four unfulfilled requirements of the act include:

  • Reporting whether or not information technology has been used to improve the government's ability to respond to a crisis.

  • Creating a program that would encourage contractor innovation in e-government services.

  • Launching a Web site to serve as a repository for information on federally funded research and development.

  • Developing a partnership between the General Services Administration and the National Academy of Sciences to study the disparities in Internet access for online government services.

The report credited GSA's FirstGov Web site for serving as the federal government's Internet portal and fulfilling E-Government Act requirements by organizing "its content by key group, including citizens, businesses, nonprofits, federal employees and other governments."

FirstGov, which recently added a page that provides links to dozens of sites relating to the earthquake and tsunamis in South Asia, projected 200 million page views in 2004, up from 176 million in 2003 and 91 million in 2002, according to GAO.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., author of the law, said in a news release that he was "pleased by the progress already achieved." But he added that "agencies must redouble their efforts to fully realize the most important aspects of the legislation, such as conducting rule-making on the Internet and protecting privacy."

Officials from the Homeland Security Department, GSA and OMB generally agreed with the report's content and recommendations.