Fed IT Chief Says Funding Cuts Present Challenges

Despite a 98 percent slashing of its E-Gov budget request, OMB claims Congress supports initiatives.
Posted October 16, 2003

Roy Mark

WASHINGTON -- A buoyant Karen Evans, the nation's newly appointed chief IT officer, told a sparsely attended press conference Wednesday that President Bush's E-Gov initiatives would continue on despite draconian cuts in funding by Congress.

As a part of the President's Management Agenda, the E-Gov initiatives propose to make it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with the government, save taxpayer dollars, and streamline citizen-to-government transactions.

The House Appropriations Committee recently cut Bush's 2004 funding request for the initiatives from $45 million to $1 million.

"This just increases the opportunity for cross-agency collaboration," said Evans, who noted 94 percent of the 2003 funding needed for the initiatives is coming from agencies that directly benefit from the program.

Clay Johnson III, the deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), added that OMB would prefer a central fund for the e-gov initiatives instead of having to pass the hat among agencies, but "if they (Congress) don't fund it, the beat will go on."

Johnson said Congress supports the initiatives and only disagrees with the funding mechanism.

"They are saying we prefer funding this way, not that way," Johnson said. "We haven't done the job we need to in explaining what we need. We'll find the funds from the almost $60 billion that will be funded for IT and E-government."

Amid much fanfare last November, Congress passed the E-Gov legislation, touting a new era of government services, and President Bush signed the bill in December. Bush had hoped to ramp up funding for the program to $150 million a year by 2006.

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