OMB asks lawmakers to loosen up on e-gov funding

The administration once again is making its case to appropriators about why e-government is important to modernizing federal agencies.

In identical letters to the House and Senate Appropriations committees chairmen,
Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management, asked lawmakers to limit or remove any language that hampers agencies’ abilities to spend money on cross-departmental projects.

“[C]ertain provisions in various appropriations measures limit agencies’ ability to contribute funding to the administration’s e-government initiatives, which reduce duplication in IT investments, thereby saving taxpayer dollars, and improving service,” Johnson wrote to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.). “I respectfully request your support for constraining the inclusion of riders that restrict the President’s Management Agenda and the opportunities we have to manage Americans’ tax dollars better.”

OMB and Sen. Cochran’s office would not comment on the letter, a copy of which was obtained by GCN.

Johnson’s plea comes after the House placed language in every agency appropriations bill that would restrict agencies’ ability to reprogram funds for interagency projects.

The Senate has not followed suit in its version of the appropriations bills, with the exception of provisions in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration section of the Commerce, Justice and State bill and a specific provision targeting two e-government projects in the Interior bill.

Johnson also asked lawmakers to withhold language that would harm the administration’s initiative to compete commercial federal jobs with the private sector under OMB Circular A-76. Over the past few years, White House officials threatened to recommend Bush veto bills that included language that would shut down or severely limit competitive sourcing.

The administration has had little luck in getting e-government funding restored, but has convinced legislators to remove anti-competitive-sourcing language.

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