It’s hard to fault the Administration for wanting to make a big splash with it’s new “Do Not Pay” website, aimed at trying to reduce the federal government’s decades old challenge in reducing duplicative and improper payments.
A closer look at the website suggests that it might be premature to declare victory. I’m not a big fan of pretty websites that assume results and claims about a “breakthrough for the Taxpayers.”
Government payment processes have to be substantially changed to make a big dent in this long-standing.
Behind the firewall of this website is the useful part, an easy-to-access listing for government employees and, presumably, contractors and grant-holders, identifying entities not to pay. Like the excluded parties list, this listing could be very valuable if used.
Here-in is the rub for fixing improper payments: Creating websites is one thing, but changing the way people actually work takes tough management and supervision from the Office of Management and Budget all the way down into the bowels of federal financial system.
Too often, OMB and the White House tend to declare victory when announcing a new initiative but before taking the necessary actions to drive change through the Federal bureaucracy.
The Do Not Pay launch is only a promising beginning. The temptation to declare victory for good intentions should be resisted until the results are in.
Mark Forman is co-founder, Government Transaction Services and formerly the first Administrator, Office of E-Government and IT, White House Office of Management and Budget during the George W. Bush Administration. He also serves as an editorial advisor to Breaking Gov.