WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman expressed pleasure Tuesday at the signing of his Electronic Government Act, legislation that will improve citizen access to government information and services, the privacy of personal information held by the government, and the security of the government?s underlying information infrastructure.
President Bush signed the bill at a White House ceremony, which Lieberman was unable to attend.
?The president?s signing of this bill today brings the federal government fully into the electronic age, giving taxpayers the same round-the-clock access to government that they have come to expect from the private sector,? Lieberman said. ?And, with its emphasis on better management of information services, this law will significantly add to our overall homeland defenses.?
Lieberman introduced the Electronic Government Act in May 2001, after having received electronic comment from interested parties via a special website established to engage the public in the legislative process. The bill was voted out of the Governmental Affairs Committee in March 2002, and Lieberman shepherded it to final Senate passage in June 2002. The measure passed the House in November.
?The idea behind this law is for the federal government to take full advantage of the Internet and other information technologies to improve its efficiency and to secure its electronic information. We hope it will also encourage the public to participate to a greater degree in government, with full confidence that personal privacy and public safety will be protected.?
The law would:
* E* Establish an Office of Electronic Government, headed by an administrator within the Office of Management and Budget
* Authorize $345 million over four years for interagency e-government projects
* Require privacy impact assessments for new IT systems that contain personal information
* Improve upon the centralized online portal so that information and services are organized according to citizens? needs
* Establish an online directory of federal web sites
* Require federal courts to post opinions online
* Improve recruitment and training of information technology professionals
The bill contains a variety of other provisions that would require agencies to establish online rule-making, encourage compatibility of electronic signatures, and provide strong new privacy protections. In addition, it makes permanent information security laws initially enacted through the Thompson-Lieberman Government Information Security Reform Act.