For '06, GSA will try to sell Congress on e-gov?again

The General Services Administration hopes the success of its Quicksilver projects will convince Congress to let it use surplus funds from its IT sales and services operations to support e-government initiatives next year.

Lawmakers last year approved a measure to prohibit the Office of Management and Budget from using surplus funding from GSA's Federal Supply Service account to pay for cross-agency e-government projects. But GSA budget director Debi Schilling said the agency would again seek to use $40 million from the General Services Fund to help pay for e-gov initiatives.

"We can show a track record of accomplishments and efficiencies that will convince" lawmakers to approve the funding plan for fiscal 2006, Schilling said. As proof, she noted that GSA this year will finish implementing four of the five Quicksilver projects it leads: the Integrated Acquisition environment, E-Travel, E-Authentication and USA Services projects. The fifth, Federal Asset Sales, will begin operation in next year.

In a briefing about the president's 2006 budget proposal, Schilling said GSA's total budget for next year would be $24.4 billion, but 99 percent of that would come from fees the agency generates from its businesses. The agency will seek only the remaining $219 million from congressional appropriations, a slight increase from the $216 million GSA is receiving this year.

The appropriated budget would include a 14.5 percent cut to the budget of the Office of Governmentwide Policy to $53 million, down from $62 million this year. The budget reduction is an effort to refocus the office's core mission.

GSA will move some operations out of the office to other bureaus, Schilling said. For instance, the Federal Supply Service will take over the E-Travel project. GSA expects to eliminate 47 governmentwide policy jobs and move 45 positions to other agencies.

GSA also will ask Congress for $5 million for the E-Government Fund. It has received $3 million for the fund each of the last two years.

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