Agency reorganization plan on track for June deadline

Wednesday - 5/11/2011, 3:48pm EDT

Sen. Tom Carper asks Jeff Zients for an update on the reorganization plan.

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Carper asks Zients about cuts to the E-Government Fund.

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The plan to reorganize the government is on schedule to be sent to the White House on June 9.

Jeff Zients, Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, told a Senate subcommittee yesterday the development of recommendations to revamp how agencies focus on trade, exports and competitiveness is making progress.

"We've held 250 meetings with current agency leadership, frontline employees, and developed a website for agencies to submit their ideas," Zients said during a joint hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittees on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia and on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security.

Zients said his staff also has met with former cabinet secretaries, agency leaders, members of Congress, officials from the Government Accountability Office and small, medium and large businesses to find out where improvements are needed the most.

"They do see inefficiencies and confusion in the marketplace," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to get streamlined. We have a lot of work ahead but we are getting a good base of facts to pull together recommendations."

President Obama called for a reorganization of agencies in his State of the Union in January. He named Zients and Lisa Brown to lead the effort later that month.

Along with the status of the reorganization effort, committee members wanted to know how the decrease in the E-Government Fund to $8 million from $34 million would affect administration initiatives.

Zients said the reduction in funding will have an impact on agency performance and the websites.

OMB is deciding which of seven websites, including the IT Dashboard, Data.gov, Performance.gov and others, they will be able to continue funding for the rest of the year and which sites will have to close down.

"We'll be able to keep most of the current sites going but we will not be able to do enhanced functionality that begins to integrate sites and make them more user friendly and more applicable to performance with the level of funding we will have," Zients said.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) chairman of the Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security subcommittee, has supported the White House's transparency efforts and wanted more information on the consequences of the decreased E-Government Fund.

"If we are interested in the transparency and transparency driving performance, these are very modest amounts of money," Carper said. "$20 million in the whole scheme of things is very small."

Zients said OMB expects to make public the initial version of Performance.gov in "the next few weeks," but warned that to bring the site up to the standard called for in the Government and Performance Results Modernization Act by 2012, more funding will be needed.

Peformance.gov has been delayed twice so far. OMB expected to launch it last summer and again in November.

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