Senate lawmakers ask for e-gov support

As the appropriations committees continue to take aim at funding for e-government initiatives, two key senators have joined the fracas in support of the administration’s goals.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), ranking member of that committee, sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies, asking for their support for e-government.

In the one-page letter to Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Robert Bryd (D-W.Va.), Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Collins and Lieberman request that the committee works with federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget “to ensure that effective interagency E-Government programs are adequately funded,” and the committee not include “provisions that restrict or delay all E-Government programs.”

The letter, dated June 22, comes after the House approved the Treasury and Transportation spending bill June 14 and included the same restrictive provision as last year that required all agencies to gain approval from their appropriations subcommittee before transferring funds to pay for e-government. It also requires OMB to submit a report detailing the benefits of e-government to the committees.

In addition to the language in the Treasury and Transportation bill, there are restrictive provisions in the Labor, Health and Human Services and the Commerce, Justice and State spending bills. Neither of those bills have made it out of the House.

“We understand that federal agencies have been consulting with your committee on the need for these programs, and we ask the committee to work closely with the agencies to resolve any outstanding concerns,” the senators wrote. “While Congress works to reduce the deficit, and fully fund an increasing list of priorities, we believe that E-Government programs and efficient use of information technology have been reducing government costs by implementing common governmentwide solutions and eliminating the duplication of IT systems. Therefore, we encourage the committee to include bill and report language supportive of E-Government in the forthcoming FY 2007 appropriations bills.”

Jenny Manley, a spokeswoman for the Appropriations Committee, said chairman Cochran would consider the points made in the letter.

“He certainly listens to the opinions of his colleagues and takes their thoughts into consideration,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the House Government Reform Committee said a letter to the House Appropriations Committee is being drafted.

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