The House Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee today approved its fiscal year 2012 spending bill. The legislation would slightly restore funding for critical government transparency projects, but the full ramifications of the subcommittee's actions are unclear.
The subcommittee bill moves the Electronic Government Fund (E-Gov fund), which supports important transparency websites such as USAspending.gov and Data.gov, into the General Services Administration's (GSA) Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT), which manages other government IT projects such as the web portal USA.gov. The GSA already oversees the E-Gov fund.
OCSIT would receive $50 million under the bill, an increase of $7.8 million from the combined FY 2011 budgets for OCSIT ($34.2 million) and the E-Gov fund ($8 million). However, the level is still $20.5 million less than the combined fiscal year 2010 budgets for OCSIT and the E-Gov Fund. And the bill falls $23.9 million short of the administration's request, which was a total of $73.9 million for both funds ($34 million for the E-Gov Fund and $39.9 million for OCSIT).
Here at OMB Watch, we're concerned that a combined $50 million is not enough to properly fund both the OCSIT and the E-Gov fund. Even if all of the added funding goes to the E-Gov fund, the fund would still be at less than half of its FY 2010 funding level.
On June 13, OMB Watch released a letter, signed by more than 30 transparency and good government groups, calling for restoration of the funding for the E-Gov Fund, which was cut in the FY 2011 budget agreement. The letter noted that the E-Gov Fund "has a proven track record of successful transparency projects that have delivered efficiency improvements and increased government accountability." At the same time, the fund has more than paid for itself, with its programs resulting in the termination of $3 billion in failing technology projects.
From here, the bill goes to the full House Appropriations Committee, which is tentatively scheduled to markup the bill on Thursday, June 23. We strongly encourage the Committee to restore all of the funding for the E-Gov fund.