Privacy amendment stalls e-gov bill

A Senate bill to reauthorize the E-Government Act of 2002, which had been approved and was set for a floor vote, hit a sudden and unexpected snag today that puts a number of government information technology initiatives on hold or in limbo.

S. 2321, the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007, was intended to extend appropriations and authorization for programs whose authorizations have expired and create new requirements for accessibility of government information.  The programs would be authorized through 2012.

It also provided mandates to develop best practices to enhance privacy impact assessments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

However, a last-minute bid by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to attach an amendment to the reauthorization act has stalled the bill, according to legislative and executive branch sources. And with the Senate due to adjourn, the bill will effectively die.

Sources said the amendment placed controversial new requirements for protecting personal individual information and restrictions on data brokers. Efforts to move the amendment to another bill proved unsuccessful and instead led to deadlock, sources said.

As a result, the funding and authorization for a variety of IT initiatives managed by the Office of Management and Budget are now in legislative limbo. Details are still being confirmed, but among them are programs such as the Federal Information Security Management Act, which is tied to the E-Government Act of 2002, and the E-Government Fund, which supports the review of interagency IT initiatives.

The original E-Government Act, signed by President Bush on Dec. 17, 2002, was regarded as the first major piece of IT legislation since the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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