Agencies to fund e-gov, Evans says

As e-government initiatives move forward, Office of Management and Budget officials may have to change their strategy to ensure they're funded.

The House Appropriations Committee slashed fiscal 2004 dollars specifically targeted for e-government to $1 million, far less than the $45 million the Bush administration had requested. The reduction in funding means agencies will have to work together more, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator of the Office of E-Government and Information Technology.

"That just increases the challenge and [provides] more opportunity for crossagency collaboration," Evan said today, speaking at a press briefing. "The agencies will have to rise to the challenge to meet that."

Evans noted that 94 percent of funding that was needed in fiscal 2003 came through crossagency collaboration.

Congress' reductions did not mean they don't view the e-gov initiatives as essential but that the administration needs to do a better job making the case, said Clay Johnson, OMB deputy director of management.

"What Congress is saying is that they do not disagree with the need to invest these funds substantially," he said. "They just disagree with the funding mechanism. They would prefer us to work with the agencies to get it funded."

The administration has not been persuasive enough to Congress, Johnson said, adding that the White House plans to engage Congress more in coming years about funding.

"If they don't fund it, the beat goes on," he said.

Evans, who took over the position this month, said she will continue the vision and the work started by her predecessor, Mark Forman. The main focus next year will be on completing the 24 e-gov initiatives. Evans said she will continue to concentrate efforts on the federal enterprise architecture for promoting effective IT management, particularly in the areas of security, privacy, project planning and implementation and the E-Government Act of 2002.

"As we near the completion of the president's e-gov initiatives ... the administration's agenda and IT reform efforts will continue to adapt," she said.

The challenges moving forward, Johnson said, will be working with agencies to ensure they have the expertise and support they need. With 20 years of experience in the federal government, Evans understands how hard that can be and knows how to affect change, he said.

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