Congress allocates $5 million for e-gov fund

Congress allocates $5 million for e-gov fund

The administration’s e-government fund felt the pinch of the budget crunch last night as Congress allocated only $5 million for the account in the final agreement on the fiscal 2003 civilian budget.

Appropriations conferees from the House and Senate approved civilian discretionary funding at $397.4 billion, about $7.4 billion above the White House’s original request, which was subsequently increased. The House will vote on the spending bill today and the Senate later this week.

The White House had requested $45 million for this year to help the 25 Quicksilver projects. But when the conferees finally agreed on the budget, the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the projects, came away with just $5 million.

The General Services Administration will manage the fund that OMB will dole out to projects in need of a boost. Last year OMB gave three projects between $700,000 and $2 million from the fund.

“It was not well justified, it was duplicative, and we had scarce resources,” said John Scofield, a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

The administration also has asked for $45 million in e-government funding in the 2004 request sent to Capitol Hill last week. For 2002, Congress approved $5 million after the administration requested $20 million.

Other highly visible IT projects did receive significant funding. The Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Entry-Exit System received its full request of $362 million.

Congress allocated $313 million for the Customs Service’s Automated Commercial System modernization project and $366 million for IRS modernization.

Lawmakers also approved tighter oversight of the Defense Department’s Total Information Awareness program. The conferees approved the program for deployment at operating bases in the United States to assist in foreign intelligence gathering against noncitizens, but they called for DOD to submit a report to Congress on the project 90 days after the bill is enacted.

The Justice Department also received $45 million more than its $170 million request to continue to modernize the FBI’s IT infrastructure and increase its counterterrorism capabilities.

(Updated Feb. 13, 2003, 3:07 p.m.)

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