GovExec reports today that Congress has included language in the Transportation-Treasury FY06 spending bill that requires all agencies to give Congress 15 days notice of any intention to transfer money to other agencies for e‑government projects. OMB had been pushing hard against this provision, seeing it as the Hill inserting itself in a process over which OMB has legal control. But legal, shmegal, it seems.
This provision will effectively slow down government’s ability to buy and sell services in its own internal e‑government marketplace. Agencies will need Congressional approval (formal or informal…that’s not clear to me yet) before agreeing to pay for services from, say, Grants.gov or the Grants Management Line of Business service providers. As if these transactions weren’t fraught with enough political considerations, agencies will now need to worry themselves about the Hill.
In addition, this bill cuts 42% from the budgets of government-wide councils such as the Federal CFO and CIO Councils. These bodies have done a lot to coordinate IT strategy efforts between agencies, and this cut may have considerable impact.
There is some good news from the bill, though. The Department of Transportation’s CIO is now fully funded, and some restrictions on e‑government spending have been lifted at the FAA and FTA.
I could be wrong on this, but it seems to me that Congress is reigning in those bodies that seek to oversee IT development government-wide and place responsibility back in the hands of agencies.