New department expects big funding boost

Spending for the new Homeland Security Department is the highest priority in President Bush's fiscal 2004 budget proposal, Office of Management and Budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. said last week.

The department's 2004 request contains IT spending increases for projects begun at its component agencies sprinkled throughout the total $36.2 billion budget. Overall homeland security spending is slated to increase by 7.4 percent over this year, and by 64 percent over last year's $14.2 billion.

'We need major new investments' in cybersecurity, Daniels said. 'This is probably an area where the new leadership'secretary Tom Ridge'will decide to invest even more.'

The proposal earmarked $117 million for department investments in IT and wireless communications, as well as $21 million for the department's homeland security IT evaluation program and $68 million for wireless radio communications and narrowband operations.

Even more funds likely will go to the information analysis and infrastructure protection operations of the new department, which are scheduled for a $652 million boost to $829 million.

Much of the infrastructure analysis spending will augment operations formerly carried out by the Commerce Department's Critical Infrastructure Analysis Office. For instance, the department would receive $500 million to identify key infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Advanced research

A key role for systems development will fall to the department's Science and Technology Directorate, Ridge said. Leading-edge projects will fall under the aegis of the department's new Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, for which the administration requested $350 million for new technologies.

In the Science and Technology Directorate, Ridge said, 'there is $800 million for us to set up a unit to help provide a clearinghouse for the extraordinary technology that exists out there.'

The directorate's $803 million budget request compares with $561 million allocated for comparable activities this year.

Deputy secretary Gordon England declined to specify how much of that spending would go to IT, adding that 'until we get the metrics in place, we don't want to spend money. 'We are going to do rapid prototyping as soon as we can,' he said. 'The first thing we are going to do is look at what's available in the public sector and in the private sector, and what areas have the highest payoff.'

Several existing major IT programs within the department's agencies would get funding boosts, including a $100 million increase for the Border and Transportation Security Directorate's Entry Exit System, which is set to receive $480 million.

The new Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, also part of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, is scheduled to receive $397 million for the former Customs Service's Automated Commercial Environment and $11.2 million for its International Trade Data System. The administration also requested $164 million for the Atlas/Chimera system, a project to integrate immigration databases.

Ridge said HSD would find savings in IT expenditures by eliminating overlapping systems among the component agencies. 'We believe there are great efficiencies' to be gained by eliminating duplicative systems, Ridge said. 'Can't give you a dollar amount yet'stay tuned.'

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