WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday released a General Accounting Office report critical of a Bush administration e-government initiative known as “Quicksilver.”
The 24 initiatives, selected by the Office of Management and Budget’s E-Government Task Force, were chosen without the benefit of complete business plans, the GAO found. Further, OMB failed to collect sufficient information to monitor implementation of the 24 projects.
“It troubles me that OMB decided upon its signature e-government initiatives without considering the very factors that it has identified as essential to successful e-government,” said Lieberman. “Especially now that the E-Government Act has passed, I hope that OMB will evaluate its programs more carefully, and consult closely with Congress, to ensure that its initiatives realize e-government’s true potential.”
OMB’s stated goal in forming its E-Government Task Force was to improve customer service by focusing on 24 government-wide initiatives that integrate agency operations and IT investments.
The E-Government Task Force initiated the Quicksilver process in August of 2001, selecting 34 projects from 350 proposals. But it selected those projects without the benefit of any business plans. Abbreviated business plans were then developed for the 34 projects, and a final 24 initiatives were approved by the President’s Management Council in October, less than two months after the Quicksilver process had begun.
In reviewing the business plans, the GAO found:
• Only nine of the plans discussed how customer needs were to be identified and addressed, even though OMB emphasized it would choose initiatives for their potential value to customers
• Only eight of the plans addressed collaboration among agencies, even though one of OMB’s primary objectives was to integrate operations across agencies
• The selections were made without the benefit of detailed cost information.
The GAO was able to reach these conclusions despite the fact that OMB declined to provide some of the cost information and business plans.
The GAO also reviewed project implementation documents for the 24 initiatives and found that OMB lacked all the information it needed to fully monitor the progress and development of the initiatives. The GAO concluded that “without accurate cost, schedule, and performance information, OMB cannot ensure that its e-government initiatives are on schedule and achieving their goals of providing value to customers and improving government efficiency.”