Federal Website Funding Is a Sticky Situation

June 22, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

What a tangled web we weave – over websites.

Call it a case of the dueling websites. There are the seemingly frivolous ones that the federal government is funding that are in the crosshairs of President Obama’s Campaign to Cut Waste. One such website that Obama especially highlighted was the Fiddlin’ Foresters (http://www.fiddlinforesters.gov), which unsurprisingly is already offline. Then there are other ones that are of vital importance to federal grantees (e.g., USASpending.gov). This site and others are funded through the Electronic Government Fund (E-Gov Fund).

However, cuts to the E-Gov Fund in fiscal year 2011 have delayed or cancelled needed upgrades to these sites, while other sites have been terminated. OMB Watch and a coalition of about 30 transparency and good government groups have sent a letter to Congress calling for the restoration for the funding for the E-Gov fund.

This effort may be helping, although barely, as the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee recently approved its fiscal year 2012 spending bill with a funding increase for the E-Gov Fund. The bill would move the E-Gov Fund into the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT). OCSIT would receive $50 million under the bill, an increase of $7.8 million from the combined FY 2011 budgets for OCSIT and the E-Gov Fund. However, this is $20.5 million less than their budgets in FY 2010, and $23.9 million short of the administration’s FY 2012 request for the two funds.

“We remain concerned that valuable services won’t receive the resources needed to deliver the transparency that the American people deserve,” said Craig Jennings, director of federal fiscal policy at OMB Watch. I agree. As much time, effort and resources that have been expended to get websites such as USASpending.gov and PaymentAccuracy.gov up and running, now is not the time to let them fail because of funding cuts.

Do you support sustained or reduced funding for these websites? Let us know how you feel.

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