Budget has business-like focus

Fiscal 2002 budget

President Bush's first full budget, released Monday, details almost $45 billion proposed for information technology in fiscal 2002 and includes the White House's plans for getting government to function more like the commercial sector.

The fiscal 2002 IT funding request across government amounts to $400 million more than the current fiscal year, one of the smallest increases in recent years.

The budget request also includes $20 million for an e-government fund to start and run cross-agency projects, such as the federal public-key infrastructure to provide security for electronic transactions.

Most of the figures for IT projects are spread throughout each agency's request, but Bush led off his budget with a description of his recommendations about how to improve government performance. Notably, this means focusing on the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, which requires agencies to develop annual performance plans and then link how their budgets affect or create their results.

The White House will lead efforts in this area by asking agencies to submit performance-based budgets for a selected set of programs this September. Those chosen will be "advised of specific performance targets that are compatible with funding levels, and program managers will be held directly accountable for managing to the targets," according to the budget.

The budget does not lay out how many programs will be chosen, how the targets will be set, or how the administration will hold managers "directly accountable," but it does state that in the future, program officials at all levels of government will be expected to set output targets to match their funding levels.

Bush also intends to develop legislation this year that will give those managers better control of the non-direct costs associated with their programs, such as the cost of support services within their agency or the retirement of key personnel.

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