WASHINGTON – In a step intended to usher in “next generation government,” Senators Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Conrad Burns, R-Mont., introduced legislation Tuesday designed to bring government more fully into the Electronic Age by improving citizen access to government information and services.
The E-Government Act of 2001 is a bipartisan effort to maximize the organization, efficiency, accessibility and quantity of the federal government?s online resources, while reducing overall cost.
“The private sector has benefitted tremendously from the application of information technology,” Lieberman said. “Now it?s government?s turn. We can and must take full advantage of the Internet and other technologies to overcome arbitrary boundaries between agencies, so government can provide the public with seamless, secure online services.”
“The U.S. government has been a sometimes unwilling participant in the technological revolution of recent years,” Burns said. “The legislation we are introducing today will change that by creating online services to make government more efficient, accessible and accountable to the citizens it represents.”
The e-government legislation would:
4 establish a federal Chief Information Officer, within the Office of Management and Budget, to promote e-government and implement government wide information policy.
4 authorize $200 million a year for an e-government fund to support interagency projects and innovative uses of IT.
4 improve upon the centralized online portal; establish an online directory of Federal web sites and indexes of resources
4 institute an online national library
4 require federal courts to post opinions online
4 fund a federal training center to recruit and train information technology professionals
The bill contains a variety of other provisions that would promote the use of the Internet in the regulatory process, encourage compatibility of electronic signatures and provide strong new privacy protections. “A functional approach to e-government focuses on delivering services to the citizen, organized according to the citizens’ needs, without regard to agency jurisdictions,” Lieberman said. “The greatest challenge we face is to get a handle on how new technologies have created new opportunities, and to reconfigure government accordingly.”
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Conrad Burns, R-Mont., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., John McCain, R-Ariz., Thomas Carper D-Del., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., John Kerry, D-Mass., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Senator Joe Lieberman press statement
ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT ACT OF 2001
Senator Joe Lieberman
May 1, 2001
Welcome, and thank you all for joining us today to help usher in the “Next Generation Government.” I want to extend particular thanks to Senator Burns, co-chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus, for joining me as a primary co-sponsor on this bill. As a matter of fact, we?re lucky to have the other Caucus co-chairman, Senator Leahy, as a co-sponsor, as well. The three of us and nine other other colleagues have concluded that the virtual realignment of government services and information is the best way to achieve a more service-oriented, citizen-oriented government.
Today, we?re introducing what I believe to be ground-breaking legislation, the Electronic Government Act of 2001. The point of this proposal is to provide the leadership and resources necessary to leverage the Internet and other information technologies to create a more accountable, and cost-effective government. If the federal government is to be a positive presence in society, and best serve the people it represents, it must aggressively harness these new technologies.
We don?t really have a choice in the matter. The people are demanding the same 24-7 access to government information and services now available to them from the private sector online. And federal, state, and local governments are beginning to respond. You can file your taxes online, renew your drivers license, apply for college loans, and if you?re a business, you can bid on government contracts and, in some cases, use the Internet to get advice about regulatory requirements.
But, at this early stage, e-government is a loose_knit mix of ideas, projects, and affiliations?often uncoordinated, sometimes overlapping, and too frequently redundant in their costs. In some cases, remarkable innovations are being championed by visionary government employees, but too many other efforts are hampered by traditional models of government management. We must not end up taking the often confusing, and ultimately inefficient, maze of government programs that now exists and simply transferring it onto the Net.
What our bill tries to do is put information technology to work to overcome arbitrary or jurisdictional boundaries so that we can provide the public with seamless, secure online services. We focus on delivering services and information to the citizen, organized according to the citizen?s needs.
To do this, we will need leadership and coordination between agency decision-makers. We are calling for a Federal Chief Information Officer, to be located in the Office of Management and Budget, and endowed with broad authority to lead e_government efforts, working in conjunction with state and local governments, the private and non-profit sectors, and the public. The CIO will review agencies? IT planning and performance, ensure compliance with existing information statutes, and address privacy and computer security issues.
The CIO also will oversee an E-Government Fund to promote cross-agency projects that are absolutely necessary for the kind of integrated service delivery that will truly transform the government. We?re asking for $200 million a year, for three years. Considering the government spends $40 billion a year on information technology, $200 million is a modest investment in efficiency.
We also want to build on the FirstGov.gov web site, launched last year, so citizens can access their government through a single, centralized portal. In those few instances where agencies have cooperated to create integrated web sites – Students.gov is an example – browsers can easily reach a realm of information and services. Our bill will produce more integrated sites, linked to the centralized portal. And we will create a directory of government web pages, so citizens can find the help they need with a few clicks of the mouse rather than with cumbersome searches that often produce hundreds of thousands of results.
The Electronic Government Act of 2001 expands online access to judicial information, establishes an online national library, and promotes research into how information technologies can be used to improve preparation for and response to natural disasters. The bill requires regulatory agencies to follow in the footsteps of the Department of Transportation, which has placed its docketing system entirely on-line, so that anyone can easily find the rule-making that interests them, review comments, or file comments of their own from a home computer.
This is the way to encourage public participation in the democratic process.
We know that savvy Internet users will never feel entirely comfortable interacting with a virtual government unless their personal information is kept private and secure. To address that concern, we have added strong new protections requiring agencies to complete detailed assessments of privacy considerations when they purchase new information systems or launch new collections of personal information.
Our bill is a work in progress. Already it reflects the insights of many people and organizations, including those who participated in the interactive web site launched by Senator Thompson and me last year. We will continue to seek comments and feedback, especially, I hope, from the Administration. And I expect the bill will change as we work to achieve a broad consensus.
Unlike too many other issues we work on, e-government is not about partisan advantage. It?s about responding to the remarkable opportunities available to us so that we can work to form a more responsive government and a more perfect union. We have only just scratched the surface with the Electronic Government Act of 2001, but we are, at the very least, establishing a process by which our government can begin to transform itself by using information technology to interact with its citizens. This is what we mean by “Next Generation Government.”
Talking Points and Brief Summary for “E-Government Act of 2001”
E-government legislation can help realize for government what IT has accomplished for industry
$350 billion worth of business will be transacted on the Internet in the US in 2001
56% of Americans use the Internet at least once a week
Government lags behind other sectors: less than one per cent of current interactions between government and citizens are online
The public supports e-government:
in a recent poll, 68% of Americans said it should be a high or medium priority for government to invest tax dollars in making more information and services available over the Internet; after learning specific examples of e-government, the number grew to 77%
A federal Chief Information Officer allows for decisive, focused top-level leadership, so that the government can harness the latest Information Technology:
the Federal CIO, operating within OMB, would leverage more effectively staff and resources to promote e-government and address the nation?s other pressing information policy issues, such as privacy, computer security, and IT management
the CIO would foster dialogue with state and local governments, with the private sector, and with other agencies
industry supports e-government and has called for a federal CIO
the GAO has been recommended the establishment of a federal CIO for years
An Interagency Information Technology Fund would enable the use of new technologies to break down arbitrary jurisdictional barriers, and redesign government services:
“one-stop shopping” online allows a citizen or business to avoid the frustration of traveling from agency to agency when trying to accomplish a single overall task
collaboration on advanced IT systems can also make complex government operations–such as fighting crime or responding to natural disasters–more effective, particularly when these activities involve multiple agencies or levels of government
collaboratively developed advanced IT systems also require coordination in how the project is funded, which can be difficult to achieve using traditional budgetary processes
The Office of Personnel Management would be tasked with responding to a severe shortage in skilled IT professionals in the federal workplace. The OPM would:
analyze the IT personnel needs of the federal government
design training curricula including self-paced courses, online courses, on-the-job-training, and the use of remote instructors
Federal government information would be made more accessible and useable:
all federal government websites would be classified in a directory according to their subject matter, making it much easier for citizens to find the sought after information
an advisory board would recommend how to improve existing requirements that government databases be inventoried and catalogued
Expanded privacy provisions would protect personal information collected by the government
Outline of “E-Government Act of 2001”
Federal Chief Information Officer
Decisive, focused top-level leadership is required for the government to truly harness the latest Information Technology (IT). Many federal E-Government initiatives are already up and running, but progress overall at the federal level is uneven, and the pace of transforming good ideas into useful citizen services could be improved, particularly in areas that require interagency cooperation. The bill would establish a Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO), who would be charged with providing the leadership, vision, communication, coordination, and innovation necessary to maximize government effectiveness in using information technology. The duties of the Federal CIO would include:
Information Policy: implementing existing information provisions found in the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Clinger-Cohen Act, the Government Paperwork Elimination Act and other laws, reviewing the agencies? information technology budget requests, and leading the efforts to address issues of concern such as online privacy and computer security.
Inter-Organizational Dialogue: leading several councils or forums (e.g. interagency, cross-branch, federal/state/local, and private/academic/public sector), focused on sharing best practices, setting standards, resolving IT concerns, designing process innovation, and developing pilot projects
Standards and Protocols: in consultation with agency CIO?s and NIST, establishing (1) IT interoperability standards and (2) standards for categorizing and electronically labeling electronic information, to enhance search capabilities
Procurement: help to ensure effective implementation of electronic procurement initiatives
Funding: administering a central fund for interagency projects and innovative IT initiatives
The Federal CIO would be located in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and would report to the Director. He or she would run a newly created Office of Information Policy.
Federal CIO Council
The Federal Chief Information Officer Council (CIO Council), composed of CIO?s and Deputy CIO?s from executive branch agencies, was created through an Executive Order in 1996. The CIO Council works together to share information technology (IT) ideas and experience and to develop recommendations on a wide range of IT policy issues. Despite its successes, the CIO Council would be far more effective if its authority and responsibilities were clearly established by statute. The duties of the CIO Council would include:
assisting the Federal CIO on information policies and developing multi-agency IT initiatives
coordinating with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the development of IT standards
working with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to address the shortage of IT professionals
Interagency Information Technology Fund
E-Government offers an opportunity to make government interactions less defined by agency boundaries, and more aligned with “customer needs” or organized according to overall functions. The concept of “one-stop shopping” online allows a citizen or business to avoid the frustration of traveling from agency to agency when trying to accomplish a single overall task. Collaboration on advanced IT systems can also make complex government operations?such as fighting crime or responding to natural disasters?much more effective, particularly when these activities involve multiple agencies or levels of government. But these collaboratively developed advanced IT systems also require coordination in how the project is funded, which can be difficult to achieve using traditional budgetary processes.
The fund would be used to support interagency IT projects and other innovative uses of IT with broader applicability
The CIO Council would review proposals and make recommendations to the Federal CIO
$200 million per year would be authorized for FY? 2002 through FY? 2004
Centralized Online Portal and Directory of Federal Websites
Building on the work already done with Firstgov.gov, the Federal Chief Information Officer would direct the establishment, maintenance, and promotion of a centralized online government portal. The portal would allow the Internet user to access all online federal government information and services through a single, functionally arranged web page.
Where a single process involves multiple agencies, a functional design would integrate the various agency inputs, from the citizen’s perspective, into a single overall process
The portal would contain a directory of all federal government websites organized according to subject matter, allowing helpful websites to be more easily located
Websites maintained by state, local, and tribal governments would be included to the extent practicable$15 million would be authorized for the portal for FY?2002, a slight increase over the current spending request for FirstGov.gov
Online National Library
Information technology offers the prospect of an online national library as a reality in the not-too-distant future. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has already received funding to begin work on the math, science, engineering, and technology education portion of this library, and will be working with the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services to provide online public access to an ever-growing database of photos, historical documents, and other information. The Library of Congress is separately pursuing its own initiative. The bill would:
instruct the NSF, Smithsonian, the National Park Service, the Library of Congress and other federal government entities to work with private, non-profit, and other organizations to create an Online National Library
direct that the Online National Library provide public access to a continually expanding database of educational resource materials
provide that the Library be functionally integrated, so that a user may access the library?s resources without regard to the boundaries of the contributing institution
$10 million would be authorized for FY? 2002
Federal Information Technology Training Center
A significant challenge for government agencies is the difficulty in attracting and retaining skilled information technology (IT) professionals in the federal workforce. The bill would direct the Office of Personnel Management to develop and operate a Federal Information Technology Training Center. The Training Center?s mission would be to:
analyze the IT personnel needs of the federal government
design training curricula, covering varying levels of expertise and including self-paced courses, online courses, on-the-job-training, and the use of remote instructors
recruit and train federal workers in IT disciplines
$7 million would be authorized for FY? 2002
Community Technology Centers
The Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and the National Science Foundation have for several years been funding “Community Technology Centers.” These centers focus on providing ready Internet access to all visitors, with the goal of making online services and opportunities available to lower-income individuals. The number and capacity of these centers continues to expand; however, because the centers are funded by several agencies and run by a number of different organizations, there has been no coordinated approach in evaluating and disseminating best practices, to ensure that the centers are most useful to the communities where they are located. There are also significant opportunities to be achieved in working more closely with non-governmental funders interested in attacking the Digital Divide. The bill would:
require an evaluation of the best practices used by successful Community Technology Centers
improve the computer training opportunities and educational resources available through the centers
promote greater coordination with the private and non-profit sectors in supporting the centers
$2 million per year would be authorized for FY? 2002 and FY? 2003
Common Protocols for Geospatial Information Systems
Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) are computer systems that display information geographically? using highly detailed aerial or satellite photographs, cross-referenced with the data from maps, databases, and other references. GIS technology allows multiple layers of information?such as population demographics, crime occurrences, or geological records?to be input, manipulated, and overlaid onto these satellite maps to conduct complex analyses of many types. As an example, during a disaster, GIS technology could provide real-time data from the National Weather Service, census demographics, hospital distribution, and road maps, to determine rapidly where and how to focus evacuation efforts. Similarly, GIS technology can be applied to crime mapping, land use planning, sustainable development, and a broad range of private sector markets. However, government data housed across federal and local agencies cannot be rapidly accessed, combined, and used for various applications because the data is developed with incompatible standards and processes . The bill would direct:
Interior, NIST, and the Federal CIO to work with private sector experts to develop and promulgate common protocols for the use of unclassified geospatial information systems
that the common protocols be designed to facilitate the development of software allowing for the widespread, low-cost use of geospatial data
$2 million would be authorized for FY?2002
Preserving Government Information, and Making it Accessible and Usable
An Advisory Board would be established to review existing government standards and practices with regard to inventorying, cataloging, and preserving government information
After receiving the Board?s recommendations, the Federal CIO would promulgate regulations designed to provide for greater public access to government information as well as preservation of electronic government information
Inventories of government information resources would be posted on the Internet
information published in the Federal Register related to an administrative proceeding would also be posted on agency web-sites
agencies would be required to accept submissions related to administrative proceedings by electronic means, including e-mail and fax
the Federal CIO would work with regulatory agencies to establish electronic dockets for administrative rulemakings
Federal Courts? Web sites
federal courts would be required to establish web sites containing opinions, docketing information, and other specified information about the court and individual cases, unless they chose to opt out of some of the requirements
important privacy concerns would be protected by the Judicial Conference
the on-line PACER docketing system could be made free to users
Privacy Impact Assessments:
No agency could procure an information system or initiate a new collection of personally identifiable information unless the agency had conducted a privacy impact assessment and submitted the assessment to the Federal CIO
the bill lists necessary elements of privacy impact assessments; more specific rules would be promulgated by the CIO
Web Site Privacy Notices:
The Federal CIO would develop guidelines for posting privacy notices on agency web sites
The Federal CIO would develop guidelines for agencies to put their privacy notices into a standardized machine-readable format, which allows an Internet user?s browser to easily and automatically retrieve and interpret a web site?s privacy practices
Provisions of the Thompson-Lieberman Government Information Security Act that were passed last year delegate to OMB responsibility for establishing government-wide computer security policies, and authorize the OMB to review and approve agencies? security plans; the bill would delegate these responsibilities to the Federal CIO
Online Access to Federally Funded Research and Development
after a review by an interagency task force, a system would be established for the collection and electronic dissemination of information about federally funded research and development
a centralized searchable website would allow government agencies and the Congress access to restricted data about government funded research and development, while at the same time offering the scientific community and the public access to the non-restricted portions of the information, including links to published results
Compatibility of Electronic Signatures
the bill would promote the compatibility of agencies? electronic signatures
$7 million would be authorized for the federal bridge certification authority, which provides a “bridge” for otherwise incompatible digital signatures used by different agencies
the CIO would establish criteria for what shall appear on an agency?s home page and other web pages, such as direct links to privacy statements, statements of mission and statutory authority, regulations, rules and rulemakings, E-FOIA reading rooms, and organization structure linked to an online staff directory.
the CIO would establish minimum benchmarks agencies must employ to help users navigate agency web sites
the bill would amend existing law to make it easier for agencies to enter into IT contracts in which the contractor is paid out of a portion of the savings realized
as an incentive to enter into these contracts, the agency would also be entitled to a share of the savings, which would be used for additional IT expenditures
Online staff directory
GSA, with the CIO Council, would develop a staff directory for the federal government
– arranged according to function and agency name
– each agency would also have its own, electronically searchable, directory
Research into Online Crisis Management
the bill would authorize by the National Academy of Sciences into applying IT advances to managing the consequences of natural and man-made disasters
$800,000 would be authorized in FY? 2002 for the two year study
Integrated Reporting Program
the Federal CIO would study the feasibility of an integrated reporting system to reduce the burden of duplicate information collection on regulated entities and users of government information; under such a system, reporting requirements applicable to regulated entities would be integrated and streamlined; the CIO would report his or her findings to Congress
if the Federal CIO determines that such a system is feasible and desirable, the CIO may initiate a pilot program with two or more agencies to establish an integrated reporting system
Disparities in Access to the Internet
a study by the National Academy of Public Administration would examine how disparities in Internet access influence the effectiveness of online government services, and would include recommendations on actions to ensure that online government initiatives do not widen any existing gaps in access to government services; $950,000 would be authorized in FY? 2002 for the study
when implementing programs that provide services over the Internet, the Federal CIO and agencies would have to ensure that the availability of government services has not been diminished for those who lack access to the Internet
to the extent feasible, the Federal CIO and agency heads would pursue technologies that make services and information more accessible to individuals who do not own computers or have access to the Internet
in utilizing new electronic media, the federal government would be required to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which ensures accessibility by the handicapped to new information technology purchased by the government