Twenty years of making government more accessible through the E-Government Act|
This month marks the 20-year anniversary of the E-Government Act of 2002, and GSA has an important ongoing role: Ensuring easy, equitable access for Americans to online government services.
The E-Government Act
Passed in 2002, the E-Government Act created a structure so federal agencies could deliver better services to citizens using technology and the internet. That work began when the law established the Office of E-Government and the Federal Chief Information Officer within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. It also established the Federal CIO Council, comprised of CIOs across the executive branch. The law also included the Federal Information Security Management Act, which reflected the growing importance of information security to the U.S.
GSA took a lead role. For example, the act required GSA to manage an E-Government Fund that supported projects across-government. Also, a new E-Government Strategy supported efforts like a feasibility study to integrate federal information systems across agencies and pilot e-government initiatives.
Many of the initiatives established during this period live on today, managed by GSA and other agencies. For example, GSA led efforts to create several services that were shared across agencies, like eRulemaking, USA.gov, IDManagement.gov, the Integrated Award Environment, and the E-Gov Travel Service.
Key Example: eRulemaking
The act required agencies to establish online access to electronic dockets and accept public comments for proposed rulemakings electronically.
Before eRulemaking, the public would need to know the sponsoring agency, when a rule would be published, how to review it, and how to adhere to commenting processes that varied widely for each agency.
Regulations.gov removed those logistical barriers and put everything online for many agencies, fulfilling their obligations (under Section 206) while also benefiting from economies of scale and value-added services. Most importantly, it made it easier for everyday citizens to participate in the regulatory process.
Today, this shared service provides the public – including researchers, attorneys, and interest groups – one-stop access to:
- Electronically submit comments on proposed rulemakings and other agency actions for multiple federal agencies through one portal.
- Review comments submitted by other members of the public.
- Search existing and historical dockets to gain context and insight on agency regulatory and other actions from supporting materials.
- Subscribe to notifications of activity related to specific dockets.
Key example: USA.gov
The act also required GSA to help maintain and promote a Federal Internet Portal that would give the public better access to government information and services.
Internet entrepreneur Eric Brewer, whose early research was funded by the Department of Defense, donated a powerful search engine to the federal government that helped accelerate the creation of the portal. This supported FirstGov.gov, which went online Sept. 22, 2000, and eventually evolved into USA.gov in January 2007.
USA.gov is administered by USAGov (formerly the Federal Citizen Information Center) within GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS). USAGov's mission is to enable anyone, anytime, anywhere to find and understand the government services and information they seek.
Today, millions of people turn to USAGov and USAGov en Espanol for help each year. In FY22, people visited the websites, called the contact center, and engaged with USAGov’s social media and email over 105 million times.
Key examples: IDManagement.gov
In 2003, the government shifted away from the vision of a centralized “e-Authentication” gateway to a framework of policies and standards and a future vision of a federated government-wide authentication infrastructure.
Through IDManagement.gov, GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP) supports contracting schedules and shared services for the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) program. FICAM supports federal agencies through the entire identity management lifecycle. To do so, it works with vendors to test and approve ICAM products and services for the federal government to use.
Key Example: Integrated Award Environment
Another initiative identified under the E-Government Strategy was an integrated award environment (IAE), now managed by TTS. The suite of systems, including SAM.gov, are an essential part of the federal awards lifecycle. The IAE’s goal is to continually integrate the existing and expanding shared portfolio of multiple online systems used to award and administer federal financial assistance (i.e., grants, loans) and contracts.
Key Example: E-Gov Travel Services
The e-Travel initiative from the E-Government Strategy sought to establish a common travel management system across government. It would consolidate existing travel management resources, and simplify processes for cheaper, more efficient operation.
Although GSA does not manage a government-built travel system, it achieves the original goals of centralization and efficiency through E-Gov Travel Services. Government agencies can establish e-travel services through a competitively bid master contract (ETS2) with two vendors providing agencies travel and expense software, hosting, and support services based on fixed-price transaction fees.
GSA’s Evolving Role
GSA continues to administer cross-government IT funds and to manage related initiatives for e-government and shared federal IT services.
One of the most significant developments related to this came in 2015, when the E-Government Fund merged with the Federal Citizen Services Fund (FCSF). The FCSF is aimed at helping the public access and engage with the government using public and agency-facing products and programs. FCSF initiatives help individuals, businesses, other governments, and the media easily get federal information, services, benefits, and business opportunities.
Meanwhile, GSA’s Office of Shared Services and Performance Improvement (OSSPI) coordinates governance and manages the most recent federal initiative focusing on shared services. The office’s guiding principles are to agree on what agencies can share (business standards), establish a marketplace of solutions and services, and increase the adoption of mature existing shared services.
The E-Gov Act promoted the need for improved interagency collaboration. OSSPI and GSA’s shared services allow us to do this as we move forward into the next 20 years.