Carper wants to know plans for open gov sites

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

With the Office of Management and Budget in the middle of determining which transparency websites will stay and which will go dark, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) wants details on the upcoming decision.

Carper wrote a letter to Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra on Thursday, asking for more information about how OMB plans on using the $8 million E-Government Fund.

“I hope you can provide greater information about what specific efforts paid for by the E-Gov Fund will be affected by these cuts,” Carper wrote. “In addition, I hope you can provide information about how your office intends to maximize the funding available or use other available agency funding to pay for some of these initiatives and how our subcommittee can be of help.”

Carper’s letter follows questions he asked Kundra during last week’s hearing federal IT reforms. At the hearing, Kundra told the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security that OMB was “still evaluating the implications” of the 76 percent reduction in 2011 from 2010. The White House requested $34 million for the fund in 2011, but the final continuing resolution reduced it to $8 million.

And because of that reduction, Kundra said OMB will be making some “tough decisions about which systems are going to have to go offline versus what systems can be supported with an $8 million fund.”

Federal News Radio first reported in March OMB would have to shut down as many as seven sites and one major initiative because of the cuts to the E-Government Fund beginning May 31.

“I remain concerned with how the new lower funding level for the E-Gov Fund might not only impede the progress made thus far to make government more open and transparent, but also harm efforts to cut wasteful and duplicative spending in the federal government,” Carper said. “The President’s budget detailed over $3 billion in cost savings as a result of the information provided by the IT Dashboard. I worry, then, that the decision to cut funding for the E-Gov Fund may well prove to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

“We appreciate the Senator’s concern about our ability to continue to leverage technology to cut waste, save taxpayer dollars and deliver a more open, accountable and efficient government with more limited funds than the President requested for this important work. We intend to respond promptly upon completion of our review,” said OMB spokeswoman Moira Mack.

Carper becomes the second senior member of Congress to support the administration’s transparency initiatives. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, pledged last week to help find a way to keep the sites alive and possibly restore the funding for 2012.

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