Bill would create an e-gov director

Bill would create an e-gov director

Although the movement on Capitol Hill to create a federal CIO has lost steam, lawmakers still looking for better oversight on how agencies spend IT money have proposed creating a new position in the Office of Management and Budget.

Support for this step was apparent last week when the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee passed an amended version of the
E-Gov Act of 2001 (S 803) sponsored by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), the chairman and ranking member of the committee.

The amendment would establish an Office of Electronic Government in OMB, whose director would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, the same way the head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy is named.

The original bill called for establishing a federal CIO. Opposition by the administration and Thompson prompted a compromise, according to a committee minority staff member.

Here’s the job

The director would focus on agencies’ e-government initiatives, not general IT management, a committee majority staff member said.

The administration still has some concern about the Senate confirmation requirement for the position, but the minority staff member said Thompson thought it was a good compromise.

The bill also removes the sunset provision for the Government Information Security Reform Act, which is slated to end Nov. 29.

The legislation would create an e-government fund for cross-agency initiatives. It calls for $45 million in fiscal 2003, $50 million in 2004, $100 million in 2005 and $150 million in 2006. The original bill called for $200 million over three years.

“We spent months working through the language in each section of the bill with staff from OMB and Sen. Thompson’s office, and in many cases language was rewritten to clarify goals or cut out unnecessarily prescriptive sections,” the majority staff member said. “We see this as a bipartisan issue, and we can’t imagine a lot of opposition to it.”

The staff member said Lieberman still is working through some details before the bill is presented to the full Senate for a vote.

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