E-gov will go on, staffers pledge

ORLANDO, Fla. — Two congressional staff members who worked on the E-Government Act of 2002 said March 5 that e-gov projects would continue developing despite the lack of funding from Congress.

Although Congress earmarked $5 million in the fiscal 2003 budget for cross-agency programs instead of the requested $45 million, the staffers said there is still the momentum to create electronic government-to-citizen programs.

"You are really talking about seed money," said Kevin Landy, who works for Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), author of the e-gov legislation. "A lot of the E-Government Act is about management."

Landy and Drew Crockett, a staff member for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), another major backer of e-government initiatives, spoke on the third day of the Information Processing Interagency Conference meeting, the annual conference of the Government Information Technology Executive Council.

Conferees were given clickers to underscore the day's theme — "Three clicks to service."

Landy and Crockett said they hoped Congress would agree to provide the $45 million requested by the Bush administration in the fiscal 2004 budget. However, some congressional experts say this year's budget battles are expected to be as difficult as last year's, and discretionary spending is likely to face even more cutbacks in the fiscal 2004 budget.

Crockett said it is important to educate lawmakers about e-government. He said few members of Congress actually "get it" when it comes to the issue. Among the few who understand the concept, he said, are Reps. Davis, Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Jim Turner (D-Texas), and Sens. Lieberman and George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Nevertheless, both staffers said there is almost $60 billion in the fiscal 2004 budget for information technology, and several billion will be directed to e-government projects. "There's enough money out there," Crockett said.

"We hope that in future years, appropriators will see the value of this approach," Landy said.

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