3 top priorities for E-Government Fund

The Obama administration’s flagship open-government initiatives — including Data.gov, Performance.gov and USAspending.gov — are likely to remain top priorities for receiving financial support from the E-Government Fund in fiscal 2012, a senior administration official said Oct. 5.

“These types of programs, I think, have permanence,” said David McClure, associate administrator at the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, in a conference call with reporters.


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On the other hand, with the fund facing ongoing cutbacks in Congress, time might be running out for Challenge.gov and about a dozen other Gov 2.0 initiatives that the fund currently supports, McClure added.

The E-Government Fund, which is jointly operated by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget, had $34 million to spend at its height in fiscal 2010. Earlier this year, Congress reduced its funding to $8 million for fiscal 2011, resulting in termination of several programs, including the FedSpace social network for federal employees. The fiscal 2012 budget has not yet been approved.

“In the absence of funding being parked in the budget, we have to figure out how to keep these programs alive,” McClure said, referring to Challenge.gov and other programs that face uncertain funding, such as Apps.gov, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, and the IT Dashboard.

Aside from Data.gov, Performance.gov and USAspending.gov, “there is a long list below that, which we have to debate and think through, including [Challenge.gov], that we want to maintain,” McClure said.

GSA is reaching out to federal agencies to build a community of interest to help make Challenge.gov and some of the other initiatives permanent and “keep them alive,” he added.

“We do not want to throw up 60 contests, success declared, and then walk away,” McClure said.

The goal is to institutionalize some of the programs, enhance them and continue their funding, either in the e-government budget or some other agency budget, he said. An audio recording of the call was published online by FierceGovernmentIT.com.

Restoration of previous funding levels in fiscal 2012 seems unlikely. The House voted in June on an appropriations package estimated to include approximately $13 million to $16 million for the E-Government Fund, while the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an estimated $7.4 million for the fund on Sept. 15, said Dan Schuman, policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation.

Both figures are estimates because House and Senate lawmakers combine the e-government budget with that of another account, making it difficult to quantify expenditures for e-government alone.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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