Senators slash e-gov funding

Senate appropriators have slashed $40 million from the $45 million fund earmarked to fulfill provisions of the new e-government law, which calls for coordinating electronic initiatives throughout government.

Unless congressional negotiators restore the money as they complete work on the fiscal 2003 budget, the federal government's efforts to move forward with e-government initiatives will be slowed.

Leslie Phillips, spokeswoman for legislation author Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), said that Lieberman would keep working to get the money restored as House and Senate negotiators move to the final phases of hammering out a long-overdue spending bill for fiscal 2003.

"One of the biggest impediments to e-government is the inability for various government computers to speak to" one another, she said. "Compatibility among government computers is a central factor in e-government's success."

Others in the high-tech community also said the funding cut would hurt the federal e-government initiatives. Olga Grkavac, executive vice president of the Enterprise Solutions Division of the Information Technology Association of America, said $5 million is not enough to implement the goals of the E-Government Act of 2002, which President Bush signed in December.

"The e-government fund provides a central funding pool to support e-government initiatives that were developed across agencies," Grkavac said. "This is very disappointing news, and we hope that the funding will be restored."

IT consultant Don Upson, Virginia's former technology czar, said the funding battle is "an age-old problem with the federal government."

"The people with the power to decide don't understand the linkages between the investments in technology and improved performance in management and everything else," Upson said.

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