The amount of money available for flagship transparency programs and how they will be funded is again the subject of controversy, with the White House rightly opposing Senate plans to cut funding and merge the initiatives with unrelated programs. The Statement of Administration Policy was issued last Thursday in response to appropriations bill HR 2354, the likely legislative vehicle through which the Senate will consider funding for Data.gov, USASpending.gov, the IT Dashboard, and other important transparency programs.
Thus far in the Senate, only the Senate Appropriations Committee has voted on funding levels for the E-Gov Fund, which provides funding for these transparency programs, and it did so in a process that was essentially closed to all other members of the Senate and to the public.
The Committee voted to combine the E-Gov Fund with the Federal Citizen Services Fund despite the funds having different purposes and raising questions about whether the combined fund would still be subject to the Electronic Government Act of 2002.
It also voted to deal the E-Gov Fund yet another funding hit. For both FY 2009 and FY 2010, the E-Gov fund was appropriated $34 million. Congressional wrangling for FY 2011 reduced E-Gov to $8 million, but with the promise that much of the funding would be restored. For FY 2012, the House Appropriations Committee came through with a partial restoration, recommending overall E-Gov funding levels be set at approximately $16 million. Senate Appropriators, however, cut the E-Gov fund even further, down to a little more than $7 million. Some programs already have been terminated, with many more on life support.
In response, today the Sunlight Foundation and OMB Watch released a letter to Senators calling on Congress to fully support the E-Gov Fund at $34 million, and to keep its money separate from the Federal Citizen Services Fund. The letter is below. More Sunlight reporting on our efforts to #savethedata is available here.
Take a few moments and call your Senator.