Davis pushes for grant tune-up

The federal government should revamp the grants process that delivers funds for state and local information technology systems that support human services programs, officials said earlier this month at a House subcommittee hearing.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said that state and local governments should have more flexibility to buy IT systems and services that support state-administered federal services programs, such as Medicaid, child welfare and food stamps.

In fiscal 2000, the federal government spent almost $2 billion on IT for state systems that handle child support enforcement and other such programs, Davis said at a hearing before the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, of which he is chairman.

However, the grants process is burdensome, according to state officials. For instance, states must submit advanced planning documents (APDs) before they can receive federal funding for developing IT systems to support human services programs. These APDs include a cost allocation plan, a feasibility study, requests for proposals and contracts.

"The current APD process for a project that pertains to a program overseen by just one federal agency adds the unpalatable ingredients of bureaucracy and delay," Aldona Valicenti, chief information officer for Kentucky, said at the hearing.

Others agree reform is in order.

"We fully support the concept of the APD process, but recognize the fact that its implementation has at times been frustrating," said Roberto Salazar, administrator for the Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service, in written testimony.

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