Amtrak shortfall puts e-gov fund off track?

Amtrak derailed the $5 million E-Government Fund.

In the fiscal 2004 Treasury, Transportation and independent agencies appropriations bill, lawmakers late last month slashed the Office of Management and Budget’s e-gov account to $1 million to help make up for a $1.5 billion shortfall for the train service.

Congressional sources said Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) funded Amtrak at $300 million in a subcommittee version of the bill. To close the gap on Amtrak’s funding, the full Appropriations Committee trimmed the e-gov fund to $1 million.

The figure represents an 80 percent decrease from this year, for which Congress gave OMB $5 million, and is a far cry from the $45 million originally sought by the White House. Rather than give OMB the money for projects to put government services online, Congress provided funds for specific programs in departmental appropriations.

Sources said there is little hope of restoring e-gov funding when the bill moves to the House floor for a vote after the August recess. “Not too many congressmen will fall on their sword for e-government,” a source said.

For the second straight year, OMB had requested $45 million for the fund to fulfill its promise to put $100 million into e-government over three years. Congress has given OMB only $10 million over the last two years.

The Senate has not moved its version out of committee.

The committee declined to allocate OMB $2.5 million for the Federal Enterprise Architecture program or $2.1 million for an Extensible Markup Language registry. OMB also submitted a request of $12.2 million to support interagency councils such as the CIO Council and the Chief Financial Officers Council. Lawmakers rejected it, too.

The General Services Administration also came out on the short end of the funding effort. The committee refused to grant the agency’s $2.7 million request for new money for the E-Travel program management office and decided not to fund the $778,000 request for the travel management office.

All aboard?

Lawmakers also included a provision that would forbid GSA from making the travel system mandatory for agencies unless it allowed for exceptions. Sources said members were concerned about the impact on travel businesses, particularly small companies.

The Office of Personnel Management and the National Archives and Records Administration received some good news. The committee gave OPM $2 million for the Enterprise Human Resources Integration e-government project and $2.5 million for the E-Payroll project.

The committee earmarked $35.9 million for NARA’s Electronic Records Archives project, another e-government initiative. This year, NARA will spend $13.6 million on it.

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