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Tech Industry

Feds crawling ahead on e-government

White House report says four of 26 major agencies have advanced, but others lag behind.

U.S. government agencies haven't yet reached the president's goals for digitizing and streamlining their processes, a White House report says.

Overseen by Karen Evans, a presidential appointee who serves within the Office of Budget and Management as a governmentwide chief information officer of sorts, the report (click here for PDF) weighed in on the government's progress as it nears the third anniversary of the passage of the E-Government Act of 2002.

That law aims to tap Internet and computer systems in order to deliver information to government workers and the public more efficiently. Along the way, agencies are expected to pay close attention to keeping costs down, sticking to uniform federal frameworks for system design, and improving cybersecurity.

But so far, only four federal agencies--the National Science Foundation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, and the Small Business Administration--have been deemed successes in implementing e-government plans.

Of the 26 agencies evaluated, nine--including the Departments of Defense, Treasury, , and Justice--have earned "unsatisfactory" status. The remainder have achieved "mixed results."

The four top-rated agencies earned their status because they were "justifying and managing their IT investments with benefits far outweighing costs," varying less than 10 percent on cost, schedule and performance estimates for those projects, and allowing citizens and government insiders "the ability to find information easily and securely," the report said.

The news wasn't all bad. Evans' staff determined that all of the agencies evaluated had an "effective" enterprise architecture for their systems--that is, "sufficiently mature enough to inform agency investment processes." Twenty-one agencies--about 85 percent--had come up with acceptable business plans and security systems.

But the agencies failed to meet the office's goal for identifying and filling "gaps in the IT work force." As less than 50 percent--a precise number was not available--managed to meet the goal, the White House plans to launch new activities, such as "specialized recruitment programs," to assist in that task next year.