Issa pledges to keep transparency sites online

Wednesday - 4/13/2011, 8:25pm EDT

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

Speaking at panel discussion of Association of Government Accountants

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

A senior Republican lawmaker is optimistic that the Obama administration's transparency websites can be kept online.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Wednesday the $27 million cut to the E-Government Fund doesn't have to be the end of the sites such as Data.gov, USAspending.gov and many others.

"It was one of the things I begged my partners on the other side of the aisle to come back and say there is a price to pay to keep this up," Issa said during a panel discussion hosted by the Association of Government Accountants. "We will find a way, and this is a personal pledge, to make sure they are not shutdown. The specific funding goes away but reprogramming authority would still be available. Our view is on a case-by-case basis we will be able to keep them open."

Sources told Federal News Radio in March the Office of Management and Budget is making contingency plans to begin taking some of the public websites offline as soon as late May. At that time, the House had passed a budget that included only $2 million in E-Government funding. The House raised the E-Gov Fund to $17 million, but in the latest continuing resolution under consideration, reduced it to $8 million.

Issa said the problem is OMB said the sites were pilots and therefore member of Congress believe they are not essential.

"One of the areas we are trying to get to, for probably $50 million you could have governmentwide collection and governmentwide disclosure," he said. "It doesn't include the pretty part of somebody's individual website, but as far as the back end data being all collected, overseen, analyzed for its accuracy and made available, it would be enough. If you do that, suddenly it's a quarter of the cost or less than a quarter of the costs that all of these pilot programs add up to. That's part of what we are hoping to do in the next go around."

Issa said this type of data is important to finding areas for long-term savings, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the Budget Committee, understands that.

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