Lawmakers seek to restore e-gov fund

Lawmakers are making a last minute push to restore $40 million to the E-Government Fund and fulfill the administration’s request of $45 million.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) yesterday sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) later today will send a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking for the money to be reinstated.

“The $40 million is simply too important to let fall by the wayside,” said David Marin, Davis’ spokesman. “If we’re serious about bringing the government into the 21st century, we need to put our money where our mouth is.”

The Senate slashed the money last week when putting the finishing touches on the omnibus fiscal 2003 appropriations bill. The House never funded the president’s request, instead allocating $5 million for 2003—the same as it had for 2002.

Congress authorized the $45 million fund in the E-Government Act of 2002, which became law last month.

“One of the most frequently cited impediments to e-government progress is the lack of funding mechanisms for interagency projects in information technology,” Lieberman and Burns noted. “The E-Government Fund provides a central funding pool to support collaboratively developed electronic-government initiatives.”

The senators also pointed out that although the fund is only a small fraction of the total spending for e-government projects, it symbolizes crucial seed money.

The funding is critical to the Office of Management and Budget’s 25 e-government initiatives because it will help projects move quickly, administration officials have said. Last year, OMB allocated between $740,000 and $2 million to three projects.

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