RealTime IT News

Congress Plans to Slash E-Gov Funding

Congress is proposing to dramatically slash 2003 funding for the Electronic Government Act (E-Gov). Amid much fanfare last November, Congress passed the legislation, touting a new era of government services, and President Bush signed the bill in December, requesting E-Gov funding of $45 million this year and ramping up to $150 million in by 2006.

Instead, Congress plans to gut the funding by almost 90 percent. The House already has approved spending of only $5 million on E-Gov initiatives in 2003, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska) introduced an omnibus spending bill last week also calling for a $5 million budget for the legislation.

The Electronic Government Act also establishes an Office of Electronic Government, headed by a presidentially-appointed administrator within the Office of Management and Budget. The administrator will implement e-government initiatives and oversee agencies' compliance with relevant statutes. The bill also creates an E-Government Fund that will invest in inter-agency projects with government-wide application.

The new legislation also:

  • Authorizes funding for improvement of the federal Internet portal, Firstgov.gov, so that on-line government information and services are organized "according to citizen needs, not agency jurisdiction.";
  • Requires regulatory agencies to conduct administrative rule-makings on the Internet, and federal courts to post court information and judicial opinions on their Web sites;
  • Allows agencies, scientists, policy makers and the public to have access over the Internet to non-sensitive information about where federal funds for scientific research are spent;
  • Improves recruitment and training for federal information technology professionals; and
  • Establishes "significant new privacy protections" for personally identifiable information maintained by the government.