Collins, Lieberman Release GAO Report On Implementation of the E-Government Act

WASHINGTON— Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., released Wednesday a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showing that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other federal agencies have made progress in implementing key provisions of the E-Government Act of 2002 but have failed to carry out others, including development of a database and website on federal research and development funding.

The E-Government Act of 2002, which Lieberman authored, established the Office of Electronic Government within OMB, led by an Administrator responsible for promoting innovative e-government applications and more effective uses of Information Technology (IT). Among other provisions, the Act required OMB and other agencies to launch an ambitious project to make all government information accessible over the Internet, to establish electronic dockets on the Internet for all rulemakings, and to prepare privacy impact assessments for all new IT systems.

The GAO report–requested by Collins and Lieberman–did not examine agencies’ compliance with the Act’s government-wide mandates, such as the privacy impact assessment requirement, and noted that in several cases statutory deadlines for compliance with the Act’s provisions have not yet passed. In most of the cases it reviewed, GAO found that OMB and federal agencies had taken positive steps toward implementing provisions of the Act.

“The E-Government Act was designed to bring government services and information closer to people. The program continues to enjoy bi-partisan support from both the White House and on Capitol Hill,” Collins said. “I was pleased to read that GAO concluded that in most cases OMB and the agencies had taken positive steps towards implementing the E-Gov Act. However, GAO has identified a number of areas where more work needs to be done to satisfy the Act’s requirements. We will continue to look for ways to improve implementation of the E-Gov initiatives.”

“The E-Government Act, once fully implemented, will ensure that government efficiently delivers services and information over the Internet,” Lieberman said. “I’m pleased by the progress already achieved, but agencies must redouble their efforts to fully realize the most important aspects of the legislation, such as conducting rulemaking on the Internet and protecting privacy.”

Among the report’s most important findings:

OMB and other agencies have implemented the provisions of seven of 18 major sections that GAO reviewed, have actions in progress to address another seven, and have not fully addressed provisions of the remaining four sections.

OMB has established the Office of E-Government and the E-Government Fund, has issued guidance to agencies on implementing the Act, and issued the first of the annual E-Government Reports.

Progress has been achieved on ongoing initiatives such as developing FirstGov as the integrated Internet portal for the government, establishing interoperable electronic signatures, posting federal court information on the Internet, and developing an electronic docket for rulemakings.

OMB has failed to develop a database and website containing information about all federally funded research and development.

OMB and GSA have failed to conduct two required studies, one on the effect of the Digital Divide on access to e-government services, the other on the use of IT to enhance crisis preparedness and response.

OMB has failed to establish a program to encourage contractor innovation.

The GAO report is available online: