H. Approps OKs E-Gov Funding at $13m, Bill Advances to House

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The Electronic Government Fund would likely receive around $13m for FY2012 if Congress agrees with today’s 27-21 vote by the House Appropriations Committee to adopt the Financial Services and General Government appropriation bill. The legislation now advances to the full House. It’s increasingly likely that e-gov fund will increase from the $8m appropriated in FY 2011, a modest move in the right direction, albeit a far cry from the $34m appropriated in both FY 2009 and 2010. The full committee effectively ratified the subcommittee’s vote last week on funding.

This appropriations bill makes a substantial change to the e-gov fund by replacing it with a new fund, the “Information and Engagement for Citizens” fund, that combines e-gov with the pre-existing “Federal Citizen Services Fund.” According to the report accompanying the legislation, this new fund’s purpose is “to provide electronic or other methods of providing access and understanding of Federal information, benefits, and services to citizens, businesses, other governments, and the media.”

All in all, $50,000,000 will be appropriated to the new fund. It appears that the Information and Engagement for Citizens fund can be topped off to $60,000,000 through additional revenues and collections — i.e. reimbursements from federal agencies, users fees for publications ordered by the public, payments from private entities for services rendered, and gifts from the public.

How will this break out? The draft legislation would appropriate $50m to e-gov and OCS, and last year OCS was cut from $37m to $34m. If we assume that OCS has been returned to a $37m funding level, that leaves $13m for e-gov.

The legislative report also includes a report-back provision, where OMB is expected to submit to the appropriations committee “a detailed expenditure plan prior to obligation of funds under this account. The plan should describe the projects selected, and the budget, timeline, objectives and expected benefits and savings realized for each project.”

We hope that the plan will be reported publicly, so that we can see how these funds will be expended.

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