Senate would keep e-gov funding at $5M

OMB's Statement of Administration Policy

The Senate this week granted $5 million for the e-government fund in fiscal 2004, higher than the amount allotted by the House but still lower than the Bush administration's request.

As in past years, the administration requested $45 million to fund e-government initiatives. And as in past years, the Senate approved one-ninth of the request. Congress in each of the past three years has dedicated $5 million for e-government, forcing agencies to use their own budgets to fund their projects. Under the House version of the Transportation, Treasury and Related Agencies Appropriations bill passed last month, the e-government fund would receive $1 million.

Administration officials urged Congress to support the requested $45 million for what officials called "an important component of the President's Management Agenda," according to the Office of Management and Budget's statement of administration policy released yesterday. OMB officials have said they will need to spend more time convincing lawmakers of the need for this fund.

"As has been demonstrated by successes from the modest $5 million invested in each of the last two years (including e-Rulemaking, recreation.gov, e-Authentication, geodata.gov, e-Training and firstgov.gov), the e-gov fund can bring significant improvements across agencies while reducing the need for each agency to 'reinvent the IT wheel,'" OMB officials wrote.

The Senate bill does not include funding for the Human Capital Performance Fund, for which the administration had requested $500 million. The fund would create performance-driven pay systems and focus on performance management. The administration wanted the fund to help pay employees above their regular salaries, based on performance.

"The committee agrees with the concept but denies the creation of the Human Capital Performance Fund," according to the Senate report. "The committee believes that an initiative of this type should be budgeted and administered within each individual agency."

Administration officials said they were "extremely disappointed" the bill does not support this fund. "The fund allows a more targeted approach for promoting high performance," according to OMB's statement.

Also in the statement, OMB officials reiterated the intent of Bush's senior advisers to recommend a veto of the bill if it includes a provision shutting down the competitive sourcing initiative. The House version included this provision, prohibiting the use of the revised Circular A-76 to administer public/private competitions.

"The administration seeks to improve the performance of government services based on the common-sense principle of completions," OMB wrote. "Now is the wrong time to short-circuit implementation of this principle especially since numerous agencies are starting to make real progress."

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