GSA fees to fund e-gov projects

The General Services Administration is proposing that it bolster President Bush's $5 million e-government request in the fiscal 2005 budget with $40 million in fees collected from agencies that buy products and services off of GSA's purchasing vehicles.

The $40 million would otherwise be returned to the Treasury, said Debi Schilling, GSA budget director. GSA projects a $75 million surplus in its general supply fund in 2005, so $35 million still would be returned to the Treasury, she said.

Last year, Bush requested $45 million for the e-gov fund, but Congress appropriated $5 million. The fund is used to pay for some of the government's 24 cross-agency information technology projects.

"The administration has not been successful in getting appropriated money, and with discretionary spending declining, this seemed to everyone to be a useful way to use funds that would otherwise go back to the Treasury," Schilling said.

The idea to spend GSA fee money on e-government came out of budget discussions with officials at the Office of Management and Budget this fall, Schilling said. OMB officials would decide which e-gov projects would share in the $40 million, she said.

Under law, GSA can use the general supply fund to pay for e-government projects that advance its work, such as e-travel and the integrated acquisition environment. Congressional approval will be required to spend the money on e-gov projects outside GSA's domain, Schilling said.

The GSA budget request also includes:

* $4.6 million to establish standards for identity management and electronic authentication, an increase of $570,000.

* $17.3 million for the FirstGov.gov Web site, including $3.7 million to improve IT security, the search engine, usage reporting and content management capabilities.

* $11.5 million for USA Services, up $2.1 million from the 2004 request. USA Services answers citizen queries received by multiple agencies using advanced technology and methods. About $1.5 million will be used to establish governmentwide standards in customer service and performance metrics.

 

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