Monday, June 27, 2005

E-gov faces budget cuts

David Perera, Federal Computer Week

It's not officially summer until Congress cuts the Office of Management and Budget's e-government funding request. The House Appropriations Committee called the initiative fundamentally flawed and reduced OMB's e-government fiscal 2006 budget from $5 million in directly appropriated funds to $3 million, just $24,000 more than was appropriated for fiscal 2005.

The committee voted June 21 for the cuts as part of the Treasury, Transportation and independent agencies fiscal 2006 bill. It now faces a vote by the full House and a markup of a similar version by a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

In addition, the committee rejected an OMB request to use $40 million in excess funds generated by the General Services Administration for e-government projects in fiscal 2006.

In a report accompanying the bill, committee members chastised OMB for wanting to spend GSA's money. "If OMB seeks funding for an initiative under its direction, OMB should request those funds under its own appropriations complete with a comprehensive budget justification," the report states.

The committee also directed GSA in cases where it is running a surplus of at least $40 million to "evaluate the pricing structure of its services" to determine if GSA is overcharging agencies.

Our elected representatives have effectively told GSA to never run surpluses.

This was not a good decision. Whether it is a question of convenient and responsive government or interagency cooperation we need e-Government.

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