Federal Spending Anxiety to Shut Off Spending Info Website

by Craig Jennings, 4/1/2011

At a time when federal spending is the top concern of everyone in Washington, Congress is about to turn off the federal website that tells us where those federal funds are going.

Daniel Schuman of the Sunlight Foundation has been carefully tracking one small, but very important spending reduction passed in the House's FY 2011 continuing resolution (H.R. 1) and appearing in the Democratic counteroffer voted on (and defeated) in the Senate: a $32 million gouging of the $34 million of the Electronic Government Fund. The fund provides money for a slew of federal transparency, performance, and oversight websites, and such steep reductions threaten their existence.

Government sources confirm that the Office of Management and Budget is planning to take seven websites dark in two months because of a lack of funding.

One government official, who requested anonymity because they didn't get permission to discuss the topic, said funding will begin to run out on April 20 for public sites IT Dashboard, Data.gov and paymentaccuracy.gov. The source said OMB also is planning on shutting down internal government sites, including Performance.gov, FedSpace and many of the efforts related the FEDRamp cloud computing cybersecurity effort.

The official said two other sites, USASpending.gov and Apps.gov/now, will run through July 30 but go dark soon after.

And this is what's so irksome about the slash-and-burn, backward budgeting mentality that has so enthralled Washington. The $32 million cut represents 0.03 percent of the total proposed cuts in H.R. 1 and 0.002 percent of this year's expected deficit. The funding reduction will do nothing to help the deficit while effectively blinding the nation to seeing where other federal spending does go.

Image by Flickr user apdk used under a Creative Commons license.

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