STATEMENT OF MITCHELL E. DANIELS, JR.
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
June 21, 2000
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.
Thank you for inviting me here today to share my views on how best
to implement the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA). We welcome
your interest and the opportunity to work with you on this very important
GPEA and E-Government
GPEA is a strong statutory driver for electronic government, which
is a government-wide priority for this Administration. The Federal
Government can secure greater services at a lower cost through electronic
government, and can meet high public demand for re-engineered e-services.
Currently the Government lacks long-term planning and coordination of
information and technology (IT) investments that could deliver greater
efficiencies in and across programs. The government spends roughly $45
billion annually on IT, but a great deal more needs to be done in order to
expand the potential of the Internet to fulfill the President's vision of a
"citizen-centered" government that transforms each agency's web
OMB's role under GPEA is to oversee agencies' progress in moving
their transactions to an electronic form. As part of this process, I
recently instructed agency heads to include certain government-wide
management priorities in their own strategic plans, one of which called for
expanding e-government. Later this summer we intend to release a Management
Agenda that will clarify this issue, explaining how we can expand use of
the Internet to make the government more "Citizen-centered" and to achieve
greater efficiencies in providing federal information and services,
improving connectivity between the government and the public. To drive this
agenda forward, a week ago I named Mark A. Forman to serve as Associate
Director for Information Technology and E-Government. In this new position
within OMB and the Administration, Mr. Forman will work to fulfill the
President's vision of using the Internet to create a citizen-centric
We also have government-wide initiatives underway to maximize the
electronic government. FirstGov is a government web site that took the
first step in providing the public with easy, one-stop access to all online
U.S. Federal Government resources. It allows users to browse over 30
million web pages -- everything from researching at the Library of Congress
to tracking a NASA mission -- and takes users to important government
transactions online. This site is a step toward giving the American people
the "Information Age" government they deserve, and we are working to make
important improvements to achieve this goal. In addition, work is underway
to develop a government-wide Public Key Infrastructure to allow electronic
signing while preserving security and privacy.
With our government-wide plans in mind, I would like to give you a
general sense of how the various agencies are performing, followed by
anecdotal evidence to describe the varying degrees of progress we are
finding across the Executive Branch.
Agency progress in going electronic is mixed. Agencies report that
there are close to 6,000 transactions covered by GPEA that do not yet have
an electronic option (this does not count the many transactions that are
already electronic and thus are not part of the GPEA plans). About 45%
claim they will currently meet the deadline with most complying in 2003. Of
the remaining 55%, a little over half have a reasonable argument for not
making the 2003 deadline. Upon evaluating specific agency plans for
complying with GPEA, it is clear some agencies are not prepared.
We have identified a few potential reasons for this. First, some
agencies have not yet internalized the need for a robust IT capital
planning process. If there is no way to choose effective IT projects from
an array of options, then delivering electronic services to the public will
be severely hampered. OMB guidance to agencies is to prioritize projects by
net-benefit. IT capital planning is the method they must use. A second
potential reason relates to the management structure of many agencies. They
are divided into bureaus and offices that often act more like independent
fiefdoms moving in their own direction. If a Secretary and Department CIO
do not have the power to effect change in an agency, then electronic
government will be more difficult to deliver.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Treasury, and
the Department of Housing and Urban Development have developed solid plans
for meeting the objectives of GPEA. In many instances, they have matched
GPEA objectives to the goals of their IT capital planning process and
Conversely, the Department of Health and Human Services, the
Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice submitted plans to OMB
that indicate these agencies have not fully adopted the goals of GPEA and
do not have an agency-wide commitment to moving into the electronic arena.
While we will work with all agencies to improve the quality of their
plans, it is important that our major focus generally will be in the areas
of government where there are high volumes of transactions that have not
been re-engineered to take advantage of electronic transmissions. The
Department of Treasury, the Social Security Administration, the Department
of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture perform a large
percentage of the major transactions that are not yet electronic.
There are several notable examples of programs within agencies that
are successfully transitioning within the timelines set forth by GPEA.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews close to 8 million
shipments of food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices entering the United
States each year. Under OASIS, importers electronically submit
documentation that is quickly reviewed on PCs by FDA employees. Minutes
after documents are submitted FDA returns its admissibility decisions to
the importers. Eighty-five percent of shipments are now handled without
The Patent and Trademark Office provides access to a comprehensive,
interactive web-based electronic application that enables all users, from
those with little trademark knowledge to experienced attorneys, to file for
federal trademark registrations on-line.
The Student Financial Assistance (SFA) Program developed a web-site
that provides tools for students and parents to complete the federal
financial aid application. This integrated process allows the
student/parent to submit information pertinent to filing the original
application, to gather renewal application information for subsequent
years, and to correct information that was previously filed via
application. This suite of Web-based services has become extremely popular.
While there are transactions that cannot be transferred to an
electronic format or should not because the benefits do not warrant it.
Having said that, there are certainly many examples of programs that have
One example is the flight plan (Domestic and International) filings
to the FAA that affect millions of public agencies, air carriers, and
segments of the aviation industry every year. Even though the process has
knowledgeable technology users, a fully electronic option is still not
available for most filers. Currently pilots fill out a paper form or use a
telephone and someone at the other end must then access the computer system
instead of allowing the pilot to interact directly.
Another area for potential gains is in the area of tax filings.
While the Department of Treasury, and the IRS in particular, has made
progress in implementing electronic government, millions of businesses and
individuals still cannot file specialized tax forms on-line. Of the major
transactions that currently do not have an electronic option for filing,
IRS is responsible for almost a third of them.
But before we look at simply converting a paper process to an
electronic one we must uncover duplicative reporting requirements and areas
where programs can share the information they collect.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) of USDA requires producers to report
planting information for their crops (acreage reports) - a burden of
approximately 2 million hours. USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) collects
nearly identical information from most of the same producers. This is an
area where we hope to focus the Department's attention.
Most USDA information collections from crop producers require
"face-to-face" contact at local USDA county offices to report the
information. For a vast majority of these collections the information is
not sensitive enough to demand farmers showing up in person. This
requirement may not be necessary.
There are also the positive stories where electronic transactions
are being created electronically and information will be shared across
The International Trade Data System (ITDS) is an ongoing information
technology initiative to reduce the paperwork burden on traders by
integrating the government-wide collection, use, and dissemination of
international trade data. Currently, traders moving goods into and out of
the United States are required to provide a vast amount of information to
over 100 Federal agencies that use a variety of automated systems and/or
paper forms. Under ITDS, traders would submit standardized electronic
import and export data one time to a single ITDS collection point. ITDS
would then distribute data to agencies depending on what information they
need to perform their respective trade-related missions.
The Simplified Tax and Wage Reporting System (STAWRS) is a joint
information technology initiative involving the Department of the Treasury,
the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, and various
States. This project seeks to reduce employers' tax and wage reporting
burden and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness with which Federal
and State governments process and access tax and wage data. STAWRS has
conducted pilot projects in three areas: single-point filing by employers
of Federal and State tax and wage information, simplifying requirements
through the development of a harmonized wage code at the Federal and State
level, and streamlining customer service for employers.
I hope these anecdotal examples give the Committee a sense of the
challenges that exist, and the areas where OMB would like to focus Agency
attention. I thank you for the opportunity to testify, and look forward to
working with you to ensure that agencies are meeting the statutory deadline
of October 2003.