Fed Tech Chiefs Don't Foresee Major Cuts from Debt Ceiling Deal

There's no way the White House's information technology program can escape completely unscathed from the $2.5 trillion in budget cuts required by Sunday's deal to raise the government debt ceiling, Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients said Thursday.

But the administration doesn't anticipate major cuts to IT initiatives and plans to rely on new technologies to wring more efficiency out of less government investment, Zients said.

"All budget line items will be under pressure, including the IT line item," he said. "But we are going to make sure we're not penny wise and pound foolish because IT is such an enabler of productivity, efficiency and cost savings."

Zients' comments echo the analysis of outside observers. He was speaking during a roundtable with reporters following the naming of former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel to be the nation's next chief information officer.

Outgoing CIO Vivek Kundra said his office has met with Congress regarding the e-government fund, which pays for numerous government transparency initiatives and was cut from $35 million to $8 million during the 11th hour wrangling that averted a government shutdown in May. Kundra wouldn't speculate on the fund's future under the debt ceiling deal.

The May funding cut forced Kundra to cancel two transparency initiatives and to suspend planned improvements to others, including to USAspending.gov, which tracks government spending on contracts, and the IT Dashboard, which details spending on information technology projects.