Grant process debated

Aldona Valicente

Lawmakers are moving to streamline the approval process for federal IT grants to allow states more flexibility to spend money on IT infrastructure that would support programs across multiple agencies.

In an early July hearing before the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy, lawmakers heard a mix of opinions from government and industry experts familiar with the process.

Although the consensus was that changes are needed, opinions varied widely on the amount of reform necessary to improve the process.

The federal government provides more than $2 billion in grants each year to support a variety of state programs, including Medicaid, child support enforcement, food stamps and juvenile justice. State chief information officers have voiced concern that restrictions on how federal funds are spent inhibits their ability to coordinate related functions across department or agencies.

David McClure, the General Accounting Office's director of IT management issues, said efforts over the last two years by federal agencies to improve the process on their own have stalled because of differences of opinion among the agencies involved.

Aldona Valicente, Kentucky's CIO, said Congress should provide statutory relief that would restructure the advanced planning document process and streamline the cost allocation process.
Larry Singer, Georgia's CIO, said the review of IT expenditures associated with federal programs should become part of the review of the program itself, rather than subject to a separate review.

Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Calif., questioned the very idea of having federal agencies conducting detailed reviews of state IT plans.

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