GSA to run three big federal councils

The General Services Administration is taking over the funding of three major government IT and management councils.

GSA's fiscal 2004 budget request includes the money needed to operate the Chief Information Officers Council, the Chief Financial Officers Council and the Procurement Executives Council.

The responsibilities of the councils will not change; each will continue to set policies and make recommendations for operations in their respective areas, a GSA spokeswoman said. Under the current financing structure, the councils' funds are allocated by each agency that has members on the councils.

"The councils will continue to identify projects, set priorities and select projects with the most positive impact," a GSA spokeswoman said. The only change that will result is that billing and collecting funds from participating agencies will be eased, she said.

GSA's overall budget request for fiscal 2004 comes in at $20.2 billion, but most of that - $19.7 billion - will be covered by payments from government customers who buy goods and services through GSA, said Debi Schilling, the agency's budget director.

The balance, about $481 million, is made of GSA's needs. These include $264 million for activities funded by the agency, such as the Office of Governmentwide Policy, e-government fund and the Federal Citizen Information Center; and $217 million for the federal buildings fund.

Of the $45 million for the electronic government fund, $2.5 million has been earmarked for developing the Federal Enterprise Architecture. The goal is to make the architecture fully operational by 2005, said John Sindelar, deputy associate administrator of the Office of Governmentwide Policy.

One e-government initiative, e-Travel, will receive $2.8 million. There are two elements to this program: FedTrip, a governmentwide booking engine which exists but is not yet used by all agencies, and a travel and voucher system that will standardize forms and procedures for travel and expenses across the government.

Sindelar said GSA hopes to start migrating agencies to the travel and voucher system by the end of this year. All agencies are expected to be using the system by the end of 2004.

Of the goods and services that other agencies buy through GSA, about $8.1 billion is spent on information technology, Schilling said. It is the first time IT has surpassed the federal buildings fund, which is at $6.8 billion for 2004.

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