Congress yanks purse strings on GSA reorganization

The General Services Administration will get no monetary help from Congress for its reorganization plan until the legislative body approves language that will let the agency's proposal move forward.

The House and Senate late last week passed the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies appropriations conference report for fiscal 2006 that included Senate language restricting GSA from using any funds allocated in the bill for the proposed reorganization.

Instead, GSA must reflect any proposed reorganization in an operating plan that both House and Senate appropriations committees must approve.

The bill now moves to President Bush for his signature to become law.

The language demonstrates that although GSA has merged the Federal Supply and Federal Technology services into the new Federal Acquisition Service and is awaiting approval from the Hill to converge the General Supply and IT funds into a single 'One Fund' for government procurement needs, Congress isn't ready to sign off on the plan.

The House's version of the bill added the Senate's wording during a conference committee in which representatives from both chambers hammer out differences between both versions.

And while the House passed legislation earlier this year approving the One Fund, the Senate will not move until a permanent GSA administrator is named to replace Stephen Perry, who left the agency last month.

Meanwhile, the bill granted the Office of Personnel Management more than $8 million for several E-Government projects, including $6.9 million for the enterprise human resources integration project, $500,000 for E-Training, and $1.4 million for E-Payroll. These are among the original 25 Office of Management and Budget E-Government projects. Lawmakers also gave $1.4 million for Human Resources Line of Business.

The bill further allocated $37.9 million to the National Archives and Records Administration for its Electronic Records Archive system, a project that will maintain, store, collect and make available electronically all records from agencies.

Lawmakers required NARA to submit for congressional approval a plan for spending the ERA-related funds.

The language also allotted approximately $11.9 million for the Transportation Department's CIO office, which was in jeopardy at one point of losing its funding in the House version of the bill. In an earlier incarnation, the House took the funding for the CIO and gave it to Amtrak to keep the passenger rail system afloat another year.

Also, the bill gave $1.6 billion to the IRS' information systems, with $200 million specifically for IT projects, including its business systems modernization program.

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