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E-Gov Chief to Leave OMB

The troubled Electronic Government Act (E-Gov), an initiative passed amid much fanfare by Congress last November touting a new era of government services, received another blow Tuesday with the resignation of Mark Forman, the administrator of e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Forman will be replaced by OMB chief technology Officer Norman Lorentz on an acting basis. Foreman will be taking a position in the private sector. His last day on the job will be Aug. 15.

Forman was hired two years ago by President Bush to oversee the administration's e-gov agenda, which proposes to make it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with the government, save taxpayer dollars, and streamline citizen-to-government transactions.

The program has had funding problems in Congress. The House Appropriations Committee is calling for only $1 million in 2004 funding for e-gov initiatives, which invests in inter-agency projects with government-wide applications. The Bush Administration requested $45 million for the program.

The Senate has not reported an E-Gov funding bill as yet and Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.) and Conrad Burns (R. Mont.), who authored the original bill, are expected to fight for more money for the program. The issue will be ultimately be resolved in a compromise budget committee of House and Senate members.

In a letter to OMB Director Joshua Bolten, Reps. Tom Davis (R.-Va.), chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, and Adam Putman (R.-Fla.) expressed disappointment over Forman's resignation and called him an "agent of change in the technological transformation of the way the federal government conducts its business, both internally and externally."

Forman is the former vice president of electronic business at Unisys and also served as director of IBM's e-government consulting. He has also served in senior staff positions on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.