Johnson to Congress: Get 'smart'

Congressional appropriators cutting funds for e-government initiatives in spending bills will not hamper the initiatives, said Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

"We just collect money from the agencies — pass the hat, if you will — and fund it out of their individual agency [information technology] budgets," he told reporters during a press conference last week.

However, OMB's relationship with Congress on e-government and other initiatives on the President's Management Agenda could be improved, Johnson said. "We need to have them be smarter about how to make appropriations

decisions."

Johnson stressed the Bush administration's attempt to foster a results-oriented federal government. "We're here to spend money to get results. I defy anybody in Congress to say otherwise."

Members of Congress, however, do not agree. "To date, a lot of funding has been dedicated to these initiatives without a well-thought-out and reasonable approach to addressing requirements," according to the bill, which the House passed June 17.

The House Interior Department appropriations bill includes language blocking funds for four of the 24 e-government initiatives: Safecom, Disaster Management, E-Training and

E-Rulemaking.

Similar language was included in the House Agriculture Department's appropriations bill, which passed July 17.

"There's still a lot of work to be done explaining the value of e-gov on the Hill," said Bruce McConnell, former OMB chief of information policy and technology and now president of McConnell International LLC. "Clearly, [OMB officials] haven't been talking to the right people."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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