Senate committee holds firm on E-Gov Fund for fiscal 2004

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week OKed just $5 million for the Office of Management and Budget's E-Government fund, $40 million less than President Bush's request for fiscal 2004.

The committee's actions on the Treasury, Transportation and other agencies appropriations bill followed an even deeper cut in the fund by the House in July. House lawmakers slashed the fund to $1 million in its version of the bill.

This is the third year in a row Congress has failed to fulfill the White House's request. The administration in 2001 said it would commit $100 million to e-government over three years; Congress has allocated $5 million in each of the last two years.

'We are restricted in funding, and we can't fund everything,' said Tim Boulay, a spokesman for the Senate committee.

Lawmakers had authorized $45 million for the fund through the E-Government Act of 2002, but it seems unlikely appropriators will deliver on that promise.

Although the House also cut the administration's request of $2.5 million to support the Federal Enterprise Architecture efforts, the Senate did approve full funding for the initiative, Boulay said.

The White House responded to the reductions by asking the House to fully restore the funding.

'As has been demonstrated by successes from the modest $5 million invested in each of the last two years, the E-Gov Fund can bring significant improvements across agencies while reducing the need for each agency to 'reinvent the IT wheel,' ' OMB said in a statement.

The administration also asked lawmakers to restore the enterprise architecture funding because it will let agencies 'identify redundant IT investment across all agencies, thereby preventing new and eliminating existing wasteful spending.'

The General Services Administration also would see a reduction in funds. For the Office of Governmentwide Policy, the Senate committee earmarked $61.7 million, which is $12.2 million less than the president's request. The House approved an even deeper cut, to $56.3 million.

The Senate committee also wants to cut $35.9 million from the National Archives and Records Administration request for the Electronic Records Archives project. The committee approved $258 million and has asked for a new General Accounting Office review by May. The House version of the bill would fully fund the ERA project.

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