Bush signs defense bill that provides $26 billion for IT

President Bush last month signed into law a $355.1 billion defense appropriations bill that marked the largest increase in military spending since the Reagan administration.

The plan gives the Defense Department $26 billion to spend on IT for fiscal 2003, said Priscilla Guthrie, Defense's deputy CIO. The money will help the department as it faces IT and information management challenges in the war against terrorism, Guthrie said.

'Networks face increased threats of intrusion or disruption, interoperability remains a major challenge, the demand for skilled knowledge workers continues to outstrip supply, and the cycle for IT innovation continues to shorten,' Guthrie said. 'We will always face challenges in defense preparedness, but we see a trusted, dependable, ubiquitous network and net-centric operations as integral to our success.'

A $37 billion increase over last year's budget, the defense appropriations bill covers a 4.1 percent pay increase to service members. It also doles out $58 billion to cover research and development of new weapons and technologies.

Shortfall

The bill falls $1.6 billion short of what the president requested but funds a range of IT initiatives, including:
  • $251 million for the Army's Future Combat System. This networked system would include manned and unmanned platforms to conduct missions for assault, air defense, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, and battle command and communications.

  • $338 million for the Air Force's Multi-sensor Command and Control Constellation Development Program. This program will combine air and space command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities using manned and unmanned aircraft.

The Navy got the $1.4 billion it requested to fund the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, but the bill calls for 'rigorous operational assessment' before entering the next phase of the program.

The budget also increases procurement to $71.6 billion'a $10.7 billion increase over fiscal 2002.

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