Civilian agencies focus on info sharing

OMB has high hopes for Congress to accept e-government

The $5 million E-Government Fund that the Bush administration asks for each year is a pinprick in the government’s $2.8 trillion request.

But each year, lawmakers at best partially support the centralized fund—providing $3 million, for instance, in 2007.

And each of the last four years, the White House, through the General Services Administration, has requested to use up to $40 million in excess fees generated by the Federal Supply Service for related e-government projects. Lawmakers have rejected that proposal each year without discussion—calling it a slush fund.

For 2008, however, there is more hope for getting the full $5 million request and gaining access to FSS’ revenues.

“We hope we can make a better case for how we would use the $40 million,” said GSA’s budget director Debbie Schilling. “We receive a small amount of appropriated dollars each year, and we have leveraged those dollars and made a lot of progress in e-government.”

The administration’s case improves with the Democrats controlling Congress.
“We met with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who authored the E-Government Act, and he asked where we are getting pushback on the appropriations from,” said Clay Johnson, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management. “He said, ‘Let me know who they are.’ Karen [Evans, OMB administrator for e-government and IT] and I plan to leverage that out the wazoo.”

Improving data collection

While OMB focuses on the Hill, civilian agencies’ IT budgets reflect plans to more efficiently collect and share data.

For the Agriculture Department, the president seeks $341 million to protect against threats to the food supply, including the ability to detect, respond to and recover from disease.

The budget includes $57 million for USDA activities such as domestic surveillance and diagnostics, emergency preparedness and response, and technical
assistance. USDA’s total discretionary budget is $20.26 billion, compared with $19.56 in 2007 and $21.15 enacted in 2006.

The 2010 Census receives a significant IT increase, as the Commerce Department prepares a dress rehearsal of the decennial population count.

Of Commerce’s $6.2 billion request, Census would receive $1.23 billion in 2008, up from $797 million in 2007 and $801 million in 2006.

Under President Bush’s proposed budget, the 2010 Census would receive $797 million, $285 million more than this year, for the dress rehearsal in 2008, development of handheld computers and opening of regional offices for the start of
nationwide activities in 2009.

The budget boosts to $800 million support for Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve weather forecasting, including
development and acquisition of geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites, and research on unmanned aircraft systems to monitor and forecast hurricane tracks and intensity.

The Patent and Trademark Office would have full access to its fees and a $72 million increase over the 2007 budget to pay for programs and to improve patent and trademark processing time and quality.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s scientific and technical research services would receive $504 million in 2008, compared with the 2007 estimate of $398 million.

The Housing and Urban Development Department made a point of mentioning that it may invest in IT to gather and utilize data to improve its programs and management.
The draft Justice Department IT spending plan calls for increases in various FBI technology projects and others seeded throughout the department’s overall discretionary funding request of $21.8 billion.

Detailed funding proposals point to flat or declining funding levels for several flagship programs such as Justice Information Sharing Technology. That project, which covers IT investments across the department, is set to see its total new budget authority dwindle from $103 million in fiscal 2007 to $101 million next year.

The JIST account covers such signature programs as the Joint Automated Booking System, the Justice Consolidated Office Network, the Litigation Case
Management System, the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program and the Unified Financial Management System that help hold the department’s largely independent bureaus together.

The FBI is slated to receive $7.1 billion in newly obligated funds in 2008, in contrast to a 2007 figure of $6.4 billion.

The bureau’s 2008 IT work will partly fall under a $315 million proposed increase in projects to boost information sharing and communications as well as related systems work.

FBI upgrades

One section of Justice’s budget publicity materials referred to 2008 funding of “$47.5 million to advance the FBI’s data intake, information sharing and IT project management mechanisms, as well as $11.5 million to improve the organization’s data storage and work facilities.”

NASA’s total discretionary budget could be $17.3 billion, and they may allot $103.1 million to advanced business systems, $5.7 million more than the 2007 proposed budget. NASA also would invest in developing two replacement Tracking and Data Relay Satellite Systems.

The National Science Foundation couldspend $994 million of its proposed $6.43 billion discretionary budget on the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program. This investment, an increase of 10 percent from the amount proposed in 2007, would support research in information, computer and communications sciences. NSF also would put $644 million toward funding computing and advanced cyberinfrastructure networking tools.

The Small Business Administration would invest more than $87 million of its possible $814 million in technical services through the Small Business Development Centers. SBA would also fund an electronic Procurement Center Representative system to analyze individual federal procurements and identify businesses capable of offering requested goods and services in 2008.

The Social Security Administration would allocate $20 million of its proposed $9.7 billion to continue its R&D efforts. This amount might fund improvements to the electronic disability claims folder, which integrates technology into Social Security transactions to increase productivity.

The State Department is slated to receive $10 billion overall in 2008, according to budget documents. Technology spending will account for about $905 million of that figure.

Budget tables indicate that State’s Information Resources Management arm would control about $848.2 million of the total IT spending.

For example, $509.3 million of IRM’s budget kitty will flow from diplomatic and consular program accounts, $70.7 million from the department’s Capital Investment Fund and about $270 million from various passport and visa fees.

State’s IT Central Fund, another method of slicing the diplomatic technology pie, reflects a planned increase to $313 million in technology spending for more than a dozen projects, up from a comparable 2007 figure of $289 million.

The Transportation Department said it would spend $175 million on the New Generation Air Transportation System as part of a multiagency effort to improve air transportation and security.

The Treasury Department budget seeks $410 million more in 2008 to reduce the tax gap through research, technology, enforcement and taxpayer service.

Electronic payments

The budget continues investments in technology to increase electronic payments and collections.

Domestic agencies generally fared poorly in the 2008 budget proposal, and law enforcement technology spending appears to reflect that reality.

The president seeks $1.86 billion for IT at the Veterans Affairs Department compared with $1.07 billion in 2007. Total discretionary spending would be $38.5 billion for 2008 compared with $33.36 billion for 2007.

VA’s IT funding includes $70.1 million for its cybersecurity initiative that involves the development, deployment and maintenance of a set of controls to better secure its systems.

The budget request provides for $34.1 million for a new human resources management system, which will produce an electronic employee record and have the capability to report critical management information dramatically more quickly than the paper-based systems in current use.

The budget requests $446 million for IT infrastructure, $131.9 million for modernization and application development of VA’s VistAHealtheVet system, $129.4 million for maintenance of VistA legacy systems and $20 million for the Health Data Repository.

The Office of Information and Technology would receive $191 million, including the cybersecurity program, enterprise license expenses and e-government programs.

GCN staff writers Jana Cranmer, Wilson P. Dizard III, Jason Miller and Mary Mosquera contributed to this report.


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