The White House
President George W. Bush
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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Today's guest: Mark Forman, Administrator for E-Government and Information Technology

The Office of Electronic Government was formally launched today, signaling a permanent commitment to the President's E-Government initiatives. Forman will discuss the E-Government Initiatives, an integral part of the President's plan to make it easier for citizens to interact with the government, as well as the newly effective E-Government Act of 2002.

Mark Forman

April 17, 2003

Mark Forman:
Good afternoon, I'm Mark Forman, the newly appointed Administrator of E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget. Welcome to the second "Ask the White House" online discussion. I am pleased to be here today to answer your questions, especially on this historic day as the E-Government Act of 2002 becomes effective, institutionalizing the President's efforts in E-Government.

Recent studies have indicated that citizens are demanding services from the government on line. The President, through his E-Government initiatives, is committed to providing government services to the on line citizen. The "Ask the White House" series is yet another way for our citizens to interact with the White House and the federal government.

Let's get the online discussion started . . .

Fahmeeda, from NY. NY writes:
What are the E-Government iniatives and how will it help an ordinary citizen communicate with the Government? What future plan does E-Gov hold? Will I be able to vote on-line without going to the polling booth in the future?

Mark Forman
There are many E-Gov initiatives focused on providing access to the government in "three-clicks" or less. Two good sources of information. is the portal to the federal government where you may obtain on line services and information. And is the website that has information about all of the President's E-Gov initiatives.

For example, if you wanted to find out information on parks and recreation facilities you could go to which you can easily find at the website.

Karen, from Springfield writes:
When will citizens be able to read comments made by other citzens about proposed regulations online?

Mark Forman
Today at some of the major regulatory agencies, such as EPA and Department of Transportation, you may find and view other citizens' comments on proposed regulations.

Soon, on, one of the President's E-Gov initiatives, you will be able to find and comment on all proposed regulations.

Travis, from Edinburg, TX writes:
Mr. Forman, Was the U.S. Government satisfied with the number of tax returns that were filed after free online filing became available? Do you believe that online filing will become the standard way of filing in the future? Thank you for your time.

Mark Forman
The goal of the President is to have 80% of all tax returns filed on line by 2007. With respect to the Free Filing initiative, we hit the goal last week of 2.4 million Americans filing their taxes on line for free.

Jack, from Scottsdale, AZ writes:
Will you need to defend eGov initiatives against the IT consultants and suppliers entrenched around the beltway? If so, how will you ensure responsive solutions to citizen needs vs. what we want to sell this year?

Mark Forman
We are making an aggressive effort to bring IT management best practices to the Federal government. This includes opening up the federal IT market-place to non-traditional suppliers who provide better value and more innovative solutions than the Federal government historically acquired.

Alan, from Arlington, Virginia writes:
Where do you see Federal IT efforts going 4 - 5 years from now? Whats in the future of e-government after this current wave of web-enabled services, the so-called QuickSilver inititatives, have been successfully implemented?

Mark Forman
Clearly, we are shifting from redundant buying behaviour by each agency to consolidated "Smart Buying." This means in 4-5 years we will see a greater portion of the Federal IT budget being spent on solutions that address high policy priorities and provide significant efficiency improvements, delivering better value to taxpayers.

Bill, from Lincoln, Ne writes:
Mr. Forman, Is the E-Gov going to present a platform for interested individuals to get involved in the day to day dealings of government or will it be more of just a reporting tool?

Mark Forman
Yes! You can get involved TODAY! Please visit and find and comment on proposed regulations that affects your life or business.

Prior to the President's E-Gov initiatives, a citizen had to subscribe to the Federal Register and flip thru hundreds of pages of small print every day to find those regulations that would impact their life or business.

Now, you can easily find and comment on almost all proposed rules and regulations.

Donna, from Southern CA writes:
What else with the E-Government Act of 2002 provide for, in addition to this interactive forum which is a great idea.

Mark Forman
The E-Gov Act, which became effective today, provides direction for agencies to work across traditional bureaucratic boundaries. Coupled with the President's E-Gov initiatives, the Act will help ensure that the $58 billion of IT spending in the Federal government delivers results for American citizen.

Nathan, from Bethesda, MD writes:
How is it possible to get to interact with the gouverment within 3 clicks or less?

Mark Forman
If we design websites using sound customer service principles you should be able to find government services and information within three clicks of your mouse. In other words, we have to make government a lot less complicated. You shouldn't need a lawyer or PhD to understand the services your government provides.

Jackson, from Washington, DC writes:
Mr. Forman, do you feel that OMB has the expertise and resources to make good decisions about which eGov initiatives should be promoted and supported-- especially in light of the difficulty that so many venture capitalists had in selecting winners in the dotcom environment?

Mark Forman
Yes. IT management best practices have been well documented in both government and industry. Failures occur when best practices are not applied. At the heart of the President's E-Gov initiatives are techniques such as enterprise architecture, business cases and sound security practices.

Monty, from Virginia writes:
Who should be leading IT change and development, the government or the private sector?

Mark Forman
Yes to both! We can't do this alone. The government and the private sector must work together to create positive change. This requires market place innovation and government leaders who are committed to and capable of taking advantage of market place innovations.

Donna, from Enfield, Ct writes:
My concern regarding E-Goverment is security. What types of citizen-goverment interaction are being proposed and what methods of security will be used?

Mark Forman
There are two types of interactions that we focus on in the E-Gov initiative. First, making it easy to find and use government information from the tens of millions of web pages and hundreds of millions documents available at federal websites. Second, consolidating redundant agency transactions that have been put on line or planned. Good use of the web for service provides one-stop access to services and minimizes redundant data collection. In this second category appropriate levels of security and privacy protection are being applied, and we find it easier and more effective to secure consolidated websites.

Carol, from Illinois writes:
How long will this site run? I am a junior high school teacher, and my students communicate regularly through email with our US representatives and senators. Thank you for creating such an innovative dialogue opportunity for all citizens.

Mark Forman
You are very welcome. The "Ask the White House" on line discussion will be a regular feature on the White House website. This is a critical part of the Administration's overall approach to use the Internet to empower citizens in how they can contribute to government that serves them. This is an excellent way to hear from our citizens and we look forward to your and your students' continued participation. Next Tuesday, (Earth Day) join EPA Administrator Whitman, on our next "Ask the White House" on line discussion. Thanks to all those who signed on today and provided questions.

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