House cuts e-gov yet again

The House Appropriations Committee is again expressing deep skepticism over the e-government initiative led by the Office of Management and Budget and cutting funds as a result.

Calling the initiative fundamentally flawed, the committee reduced OMB's e-government request for $5 million in directly appropriated funds, down to $3 million, about $24,000 more than was appropriated for fiscal 2005.

The House Appropriations Committee voted June 21 to accept the language as part of the Treasury, Transportation, and independent agencies fiscal 2006 bill, which now faces a full floor vote.

Committee members have denied OMB's e-government funding request and instead approved a far smaller amount every year since OMB started asking for funding in 2001.

The committee has also included a provision preventing agencies from transferring funds to e-government efforts except as noted in an OMB report, the committee document states.

An OMB request to use $40 million in excess funds generated by the General Services Administration for e-government projects in fiscal 2006 has been met with a resounding rejection by the committee. Instead, in a House report accompanying the bill, the committee directed GSA, in cases where it is running a surplus of at least $40 million, to "evaluate the pricing structure of its services" to see if agencies are being overcharged.

OMB initiatives should be paid for through OMB's own budget appropriation, "complete with a comprehensive budget justification," the report states.

The overall budget for OMB was increased by $8.5 million above the president’s request for a total of $76.9 million, in large part to add more staff dedicated toward preparation of the budget.

The OMB staff for federal programs is preparing to evaluate with the Performance Assessment Rating Tool in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008 must also be submitted in advance for approval by the committee, the report states.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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