Budget Technopocalypse Deepens: Transparency Sites Will Go Dark In A Few Months


Federal News Radio has an interesting follow-up to my interview with them yesterday on the budget technopocalypse. I wrote last week that Data.gov, USASpending.gov, and other Obama tech innovations face virtual extinction because it appears that Congress will cut their collective budgets from $34m to $2m. We and many others are sending an open letter to congress in an effort to save these vital transparency programs.

Federal News Radio executive editor Jason Miller reports on the stakes:

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. “We need at least another $4 million just to keep USASpending.gov operating this year,” the official said. “We are looking at a pass-the-hat approach, but it could be challenging to get that done in time.”

Rep. Serrano weighed in:

“The detrimental effect of HR 1 on so many areas of government is clear—and perhaps no more so than on the efforts to ensure the government’s IT infrastructure upgrades are proceeding on schedule and on budget,” said Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. “We cannot have a more streamlined, efficient and open government without using the best technology available. Unfortunately the cuts in H.R. 1 to e-government fund will have the unintended consequence of making government less accountable and transparent.”

As did Senator Lieberman:

“Economic conditions demand wise budget decisions, but cutting money from multiple federal IT programs is penny-wise and pound foolish,” said Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Lieberman is the chairman of. “Programs that modernize technology ultimately improve management and save taxpayers billions of dollars. Transparency and e-government programs encourage public participation in government. Small investments in IT modernization can reap enormous rewards, which is why Senator Lieberman opposes the proposed cuts to the e-gov fund and the administration’s IT reform efforts.”

I’ll keep you updated as developments happen.