House lawmakers favor cuts in e-government projects

House-passed legislation to fund the Interior Department and other federal entities in fiscal 2005 would cut more than $1 million from the spending for e-government programs.

The measure, H.R. 4568, would cut e-government spending at the National Park Service by $871,000. However, the bill includes $1.2 million for information technology security, $1.57 million for IT certification and accreditation, $750,000 for the park service's technology framework and $1.2 million for networking.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 334-86 on June 17.

At the U.S. Geological Survey, funding for SAFECOM, a program designed to let public-safety personnel communicate across jurisdictions via wireless equipment, would be cut by $64,000, and support for the disaster.gov Internet project would drop by $680,000. Another $5,000 would be cut from other e-government initiatives. The House also voted to cut e-government aid to the agency's science support center by $414,000.

In its report on the bill, the House Appropriations Committee criticized the U.S. Geological Survey's inadequate planning on Landsat 7 satellite-mapping system. Lawmakers said they have revamped funding for the program twice but have not seen sufficient improvement.

The committee refused to provide further funding for the mapping project and recommended that the agency operate Landsat 7 via base funds and collect and archive data only. It also encouraged the administration to work with National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other federal agencies to place an advanced Landsat sensor in orbit quickly "to reduce future data gaps."

The agency further should continue its work converting data to disks, the committee said.

The bill would increase funding for some technology. The Bureau of Land Management, for example, would get about $18.8 million for land and resource information systems -- $493,000 more than requested and $53,000 more than in fiscal 2004. The systems are used to maintain information about the 700 million acres of land BLM oversees. Previous funding has been used to automate records on land ownership and status, and to maintain existing systems.

Indian health facilities also would receive some $405 million under the bill, representing an increase of $15 million above the budget request and $98 million more than in fiscal 2004. The committee recommended that of those funds used for equipment, officials focus on replacing outdated analog-based medical devices with digital medical devices and telemedicine equipment.

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