Senate: No e-gov funding

A committee report on a funding bill for the State, Justice, Commerce and other agencies said the e-government programs are vague and assertions of cost-savings through consolidation are speculative.

Funding for the Bush Administration's e-government initiatives are all but dead, as the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended zeroing out the program, Federal Computer Week reports. A committee report on a funding bill for the State, Justice, Commerce and other agencies said the e-government programs are vague and assertions of cost-savings through consolidation are speculative.

“Therefore, the committee has no confidence that the amounts being assessed have any relationship to the benefits anticipated to be returned,” according to the report. The limitations would affect agencies covered under this appropriations bill.

“Consolidation, when taken too far as an objective, can become an excuse to usurp decision-making from agencies and leave them without the ability to acquire the critical technology to become more efficient and effective,” the report continues.

Since the initiatives involve transferring agency funds to pay for the e-government projects, financial oversight may be threatened, as they conceal costs and performance.

“Considering the difficulty the federal government has in managing large, complex IT acquisitions, the committee believes that the [e-government] initiatives would benefit from greater public accountability and should be administered in a manner that does not impede congressional oversight,” according to the report.

The door is not totally shut on e-gov, but if the Senate language becomes law, the government would have to submit a cost-benefit analysis, information about the business metrics agencies use to measure a successful execution, and a projection of all savings an agency achieves through its contributions to the initiatives. An agency’s inspector general must validate the analyses.

The action pretty much mirrors the House's attitude. “I believe the language speaks for itself and reiterates what the subcommittee has been saying for the past year, that in order for this initiative to be successful, we need to have a better understanding of the costs and benefits and clearer guidance for the agencies to follow,” said Mike Hettinger, staff director at the House Government Reform Committee’s Government Management, Finance and Accountability Subcommittee.

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