OMB: Use e-gov to cut budget

"Revised FY 2003 Funding Guidance and Freedom to Manage Initiatives"

The day that agencies turned in their fiscal 2003 budget requests, the Office of Management and Budget sent out a memo asking them to use e-government and other reform initiatives to cut 5 percent off those requests.

In a Sept. 10 memo, OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. cited changes in the economy as the reason he is asking agencies to help develop a 2003 budget that spends less than the one currently going through Congress. The alternate requests are due to OMB by Sept. 28.

"In addition to options OMB may generate, I ask you to identify less-effective programs or lower-priority areas for possible reductions," Daniels wrote.

The priorities outlined by President Bush in the fiscal 2002 budget, including government reforms to improve performance, must stay at the top of agencies' requests. But "aggressive employment of the president's management reform agenda in the areas of competitive sourcing and e-gov initiatives can help achieve these potential targets," Daniels wrote.

OMB also is asking agencies to come forward with additional information for a study that will be included with the 2003 budget that goes to Congress in February. Along with outlining his management agenda last month, Bush also introduced his Freedom to Manage initiative. That initiative is intended to provide agencies with tools to fully manage their programs, including better control over personnel costs and removal of laws, regulations and requirements that get in the way of effective program management.

The study is meant to provide a comprehensive review of those impediments, but agencies have not yet turned in "a sufficient list to illustrate the need for reform," according to the memo. Daniels asked agencies to identify a sampling of the requirements that each agency feels should be removed by Sept. 17.

OMB officials did not say whether the due dates for the alternate budget requests or the requirements review would change following the disruptions in government work after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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