Forman pushes House to meet e-gov fund request

Mark Forman of OMB told House lawmakers that the $100 million e-gov fund requested by the administration is "critical to achieving the promise of e-government."

The Bush administration is applying a full-court press to the House to authorize its request for a $45 million e-government fund. Mark Forman, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for IT and e-government, Sept. 18 told lawmakers that the fund was "critical to achieving the promise of e-government."

In the past, Forman has said, there is plenty of money in the projected $52 billion IT budget for fiscal 2003 to fund the 24 Quicksilver projects. But Forman testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy that the $45 million would let his office pay for the consolidation and integration of redundant systems, which would free up agency money for other mission-critical work.

"There is no question that if we have the e-government fund, we can move further faster," he said. "By the same token, Congress needs to show it supports cross-agency projects. The Senate has passed the bill with our funding request, and it is critical that the House show its support."

The Senate Appropriations Committee allocated $45 million in the Treasury-Postal bill, but the House version allots only $5 million?the same amount OMB received in fiscal 2002.

Forman said even if OMB receives its full request, his office still would instruct agencies to stop redundant spending.

"Clearly there are a number of areas where we are overinvested," Forman said. "We saw this with E-Training. When we launched GoLearn.gov, we were able to buy the technology once and scale it out for everyone to use."

Forman's comments came as he testified before the subcommittee about the administration's support for the E-Government Act of 2002, HR 2458, which would authorize the e-government fund to be $200 million a year for 2003 and 2004.

The Senate passed a similar version of the bill, S 803, which approved $345 million between 2003 and 2006 for the fund, including the president's request for $45 million in 2003 and $55 million in 2004. But the House version contains a number of differences from the Senate bill that the administration does not support, such as establishing a federal CIO.

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