Key Transparency Fund Survives in Spending Bill
by Gavin Baker, 1/14/2014
The House and Senate appropriations committees today released a new spending bill which contained good news for a key fund for government transparency programs. The Electronic Government Fund (E-Gov Fund) will receive a slight boost in funding from recent years, while still falling short of the administration’s funding request.
The E-Gov Fund has been instrumental in supporting many recent online innovations for open government, including USAspending.gov, Data.gov, Performance.gov, and the IT Dashboard. While the open government community has defended its value, some congressional appropriators have repeatedly sought to cut the fund over the past several years.
Under the current deal, the E-Gov Fund will receive $16 million for fiscal year 2014, an increase of approximately one-third compared to the roughly $12 million that the fund received in each of the previous two fiscal years. However, the appropriation falls about $4 million short of the $20.2 million administration had requested. Nonetheless, with many other programs across the government facing cuts, the appropriation for the E-Gov Fund in the new bill represents a win for open government and online innovation.
In additional good news, the E-Gov Fund will also retain its budgetary independence. The House Appropriations Committee last year proposed to merge the E-Gov Fund with another fund and cut their combined funding. Openness advocates raised concerns about combining the E-Gov Fund with another program, which could distract from its purpose.
With a responsible funding level and maintained independence, the E-Gov Fund should be able to continue supporting the development of new and improved tools to increase government transparency.