Will E-Gov merger lead to reduction in services?

Tuesday - 6/21/2011, 7:35am EDT

By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

On the surface, the fiscal 2012 spending bill in the House Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee seems to have boosted funding for government transparency projects.

Looking closer, however, Sam Rosen-Amy, a federal fiscal policy analyst for OMB Watch, said the money now covers an array of projects that will ultimately take cuts.

"They combined the two funds -- the Electronic Government Fund, which is a big fund we care about, and the Office of Citizen Services," said Rosen-Amy in a recent interview with Francis Rose on "In Depth".

In the 2012 bill, the E-Government Fund and the Office of Citizen Services would get $50 million collectively.

"Unfortunately, the E-Gov fund itself was $34 million in 2010," said Rosen-Amy. "We really don't think it [2012 spending bill] is quite enough money to fully fund both the E-Gov and Office of Citizen Services."

In 2010, lawmakers reduced the E-Government Fund to $8 million - a total reduction of 76 percent.

The $50 million still is short of the $73.9 million requested by the Obama administration, and the shortfall, said Rosen-Amy, could lead to a reduction in services.

"There might not be as much back-end support," he said. The E-Gov Fund helps pay for sites such as USASpending.gov, which details how agencies spend money on contracts and grants, as well as data.gov.

"The E-Gov Fund helps for some of the back-end work of helping agencies get their data online onto these sites and with spending cuts they might not have as much support money to help agencies get good quality data up there," said Rosen-Amy. "I would say that's the biggest affect on all the agencies."

The subcommittee also would shift the control of the E-Government Fund from the Office of Management and Budget to the Government Services Administration. Rosen-Amy, however, said little will change as far as oversight is concerned.

"My understanding is that GSA has always been overseeing this pot of money to begin with, so I'm not sure if all that much will be changing on the day-to-day operations behind this," he said. "Maybe combining the two funds will sort of help the administrative side of things."

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Jory Heckman is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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