Senate, House need to come to terms over e-gov funding

Committee to debate Transportation, Treasury spending bill

Legislation allocating $5 million for the administration’s E-Government Fund and placing limits on competitive sourcing for certain agencies cleared the Senate last month and is headed for a conference committee so House and Senate lawmakers can work out differences.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed HR 3058—the Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies appropriations bill for fiscal 2006—and immediately named conferees who will attempt to hammer out a compromise bill with House officials before Congress adjourns this year.

At press time, the House has not named conferees, but a spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee said the conference committee could convene this week.

The House passed the bill in May and there are a few differences that need to be resolved before the bill can be sent to the president’s desk.

Although they are not all that significant, the differences de- note some slight disagreements over e-government funding, competitive sourcing for commercial government jobs and the reorganization of the General Services Administration (see chart).

The Senate bill, for example, earmarks $5 million for interagency e-government funding, while the House version calls for $3 million. Both bills ask for a spending plan to be submitted to both the Senate and House appropriations committees before any new e-government projects are undertaken, but the House, which has long been skeptical of these initiatives, contains stricter reporting measures.

House members struck the funds for another e-government project, E-Travel, an online platform agencies can use to handle travel booking, authorizations and vouchers, in an effort to protect small businesses from being blocked from contracting opportunities.

The Senate, though, would al- low the system to function if agencies allocate 23 percent of all contracted dollars to small businesses.

The Senate bill would make it easier for agency employees to compete for contractor jobs.
And in language directly targeted at an A-76 contract the Federal Aviation Administration signed with Lockheed Martin Corp. in February for flight services, the Senate granted a strong severance package for all employees impacted by the $1.9 billion competitive-sourcing contract.

The House bill states that no funds in the legislation can be used for the flight services contract.

Both versions will likely meet resistance from the White House, which last month threatened to veto the spending bill if there are any limits placed on competitive sourcing.

Also, the Senate legislation provides no money for the General Services Administration reorganization effort—which would create the Federal Acquisition Service by merging the Federal Supply and Federal Technology services—until the full Congress approves the plan.

This will not happen anytime soon, as the Senate committee overseeing GSA—the Homeland Security and Governmental Af- fairs Committee—will not take up the issue until a new GSA administrator is named [GCN, Oct. 10, Page 10]. The House passed the reorganization plan earlier this year.

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