Grappling With Compliance

9/11 aftermath boosts agencies' security focus, hinders deadline efforts.

Just how likely are federal agencies to meet their eGov deadlines? While the White House Office of Management and Budget said it expects all federal agencies to comply with the GPEA (Government Paperwork Elimination Act), experts say theyre not optimistic. In fact, some agency IT chiefs said compliance efforts in recent months have had to compete with a renewed focus on security.

"On the whole, most agencies probably will not meet the GPEA deadline," said Robin Lineberger, senior vice president in the federal services practice at KPMG Consulting Inc., in McLean, Va. "But theres spirit out there to try to make it. We are seeing broad activity, especially with new technology initiatives."

If most agencies falter, it shouldnt come as a surprise to the OMB. In September, the General Accounting Office released findings forecasting that many agencies will fail to meet the October 2003 GPEA deadline.

Federal agencies are required to make their services electronically accessible when possible but can keep certain paper-based processes in place if they can prove moving those processes onto the Internet is not cost-effective.

At the very least, experts say, the OMB expects agencies to fulfill the requirements of all eGov-related mandates, from the GPEA to the Government Information Security Reform Act, as best they can.

"We said in our last report that we fully intend to meet all deadlines," said Lawrence Barrett, CIO of the U.S. Small Business Administration, in Washington. "Im pretty sure OMB has the same expectations of us."

While Barrett intends to try to meet the requirements of every mandate as best he can, he said precious time and resources have been diverted from eGov projects since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"There has been a lot of emphasis on security ever since 9/11, and weve slowed down a little on our e-government initiatives to focus more time and attention on security," Barrett said.

Still, officials at federal agencies said theyre committed to meeting the deadlines, even as they struggle to meet heightened security expectations. The Federal Aviation Administration is already in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

"We intend to be compliant with all e-government-related mandates. That is our goal, and were working toward that goal," said Tom Fulcher, program director of the information management division at the FAA, in Washington. "If 9/11 causes us to slip a little off course, then well deal with it then."

Links to other stories in this package
eGov Challenges Tech
eGov Prompts Ambitious Agency Efforts
Additional eGov Web Resources