Federal Website Reform Efforts Moving Forward

The Obama administration's reform of federal websites moved forward yesterday, but without shedding much light on what impact the effort will have on open government. The effort, which was launched in a June 13 memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is meant to cut costs while improving service.

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Administration to Revamp Federal Web Strategy

The Obama administration announced on June 13 a plan to retool its approach to federal websites, with an emphasis on consolidating or eliminating sites. Although the plan has the potential to increase transparency, open government advocates are concerned that important information could end up on the chopping block.

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New Executive Order Could Improve Government Websites

On April 27, President Obama signed Executive Order 13571, entitled "Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service." Building on a Clinton-era order, E.O. 13571 requires agencies to develop plans to make their customer service more efficient and effective. Agencies have to publish their plans online within 180 days.

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Transparency Hearing Highlights Spending Data Issues

Even though Sunshine Week is officially this week, the House of Representatives got the ball rolling last Friday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform (say that ten times fast) held a hearing called "Transparency Through Technology: Evaluating Federal Open-Government Initiatives," although the hearing focused more on spending transparency than anything else. While one would expect that an oversight hearing in the House “evaluating” the Obama administration’s transparency efforts would be contentious, the most surprising aspect of the hearing was that it wasn’t.

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Administration Backpedals on Key Transparency Initiative

Transparency, apparently, has its limits.

The Obama administration might be reducing contract spending, but don't expect the contracts the government signs to show up online anytime soon. Withdrawing a proposal made last May, the administration quietly announced yesterday that it's abandoning what has turned out to be a tepid examination of posting federal contracts online.

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First OMB PAYGO Scorecard Puts Congress $64 Billion in the Black. Wait, What?

Good news everyone! In 2010, according to a recent accounting by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the bills Congress passed reduced the deficit by $64 billion over the next ten years. Surprised? Thought this past year featured massive deficit-financed bills? That’s because the scorecard, which OMB keeps as part of statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO), does not include hundreds of billions in spending. Congress essentially told OMB to ignore a few key pieces of legislation, which, if included in the calculation, would bring the year’s cost to $820 billion over ten years.

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Administration Looks to Build New Participation Website

A government proposal would develop a new public participation website, with the working title "ExpertNet." OMB Watch filed comments responding to a request for information on the proposal from the General Services Administration, the White House Open Government Initiative and the Office of Management and Budget.

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Federal Government's IT Reform Efforts Come Into Focus

Jeffery Zients

Last month, OMB management guru Jeff Zients unveiled the Obama administration's five-part internet technology (IT) reform proposal during a talk before the Northern Virginia Tech Council. Highlighting the administration's achievements in IT reform thus far – including the launching of the IT Dashboard and a recently concluded review of federal financial system projects – Zients sketched out the five parts: introducing budget and acquisitions flexibility, strengthening program management, increasing accountability, increasing engagement with industry, and adopting light technologies.

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What's the Ideal Ratio of Government Employees to Contractors?

This picture doesn't completely match the headline, but it's interesting, so go with it...

No one really knows, but the first step in figuring it out is to identify what the current ratio of feds to contractors is. And that's exactly what federal agencies, excluding the Department of Defense (DOD), will undertake in the spring according to a recent Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) memorandum. The analysis will help government agencies determine if they're getting the taxpayers' money worth out of contractors.

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Can Obama Install Lew as Acting OMB Director?

It seems Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has struck a nerve with her hold of President Obama’s nominee for Office of Management and Budget director, Jack Lew. Last week, the Washington Post launched a salvo against her, penning an editorial titled, “It's a terrible time to be without a budget office head,” lambasting the senator for her hold. The editorial is spot on, and brings some much needed media attention to Landrieu’s absurd actions, which are hurting OMB’s efforts at putting out the 2012 budget request. But what I found most interesting was one line towards the end.

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