E-gov stays high on agenda, GSA budget

The Bush administration has requested another $45 million for e-government initiatives in its fiscal 2004 budget proposal for the General Services Administration, despite Congress' history of slashing e-government funds.

In 2002, the year President Bush signed the E-Government Act into law, Congress granted $5 million of the $20 million the administration requested. Now lawmakers are on their way to approving only $5 million of the $45 million requested for fiscal 2003, causing e-government advocates to fear that Congress doesn't take the initiatives seriously.

The E-Government Act laid out a three-year, $100 million plan. Even if Congress appropriates all $45 million in fiscal 2004, the three-year total will only be $55 million.

The legislation identified 24 specific projects across several agencies to be funded. GSA is the lead agency for five of them and proposes to spend $7 million from its general supply fund to pay for them in 2004.

GSA also requested $17.6 million for its Federal Citizen Information Center fund, part of the Office of Citizen Services and Communications (OCSC) it launched in 2002. The center maintains relationships with more than 40 departments and agencies to identify and make available information of interest to the public. It publishes a quarterly catalog of information and advertises its services.

OCSC includes the support offices for the FirstGov Web portal, the e-government initiatives and the National Contact Center of the Federal Citizen Information Center.

Much of GSA's funding comes from revenue from sources such as the fees agencies pay to use GSA contracts and public buildings. The Federal Supply Service (FSS) oversees GSA's e-government projects and provides contracts for agencies to use in buying information technology, along with most other products and services. The Federal Technology Service (FTS) offers specific telecommunications and IT contracts.

In 2002, FSS brought in almost $3 million in fees and recorded a profit of $156,000. FTS reported $7 million in revenue and $22,000 in profit for the same fiscal year.

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