DHS systems set to get spending raise

Chart of the IT spending budget from 2000 - 2005

'When you are preparing a budget, nothing helps more than getting a raise,' Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge says.

While President Bush's fiscal 2005 budget proposal calls for flat or nearly flat spending on IT, the Homeland Security Department is one of the few agencies tapped to receive major bumps for IT projects.

Borrowing the analogy Ridge used last week during a briefing on the DHS funding plan, the administration's budget proposal would give Homeland Security a 9.7 percent raise, to $40.2 billion next year. The proposal calls for a $12 million increase for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, which would bring funding for the entry-exit system to $340 million next year.

'There will be continued technological refinements' in the virtual border project, Ridge said.

The department's Science and Technology Directorate, which issues grants mainly to generate near-term technology to counter terrorism, would receive $127 million in additional funds, bringing its overall spending to $1.04 billion. The increase would include $119 million in new research funds and an $8 million increase for management and administration.

Funding for the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Effectiveness and Efficiency program, or Emerge2'an initiative to consolidate DHS' financial and back-office systems'would jump to $59 million in 2005, an increase of $17 million.

The budget also proposes a $21 million program, as yet unnamed, to create a new human resources information system for DHS.

To help pinpoint high-risk cargo entering the country, the administration wants to add $12.6 million for staffing and technology to support the National Targeting Center, which does trend analysis and runs automated targeting systems for the Customs and Border Protection bureau.

The Homeland Security Operations Center, a technology-heavy clearinghouse for threat information, would receive an increase of $10 million, bringing its funding to $35 million.

The budget proposal calls for steady funding of wireless communications programs at $100 million. The department's IAIP Directorate is implementing Safecom, an e-government project to promote interoperable wireless communications for first responders.

The administration also would keep systems security spending at $31 million. The IAIP Directorate would administer expanded cyberthreat exercises that would receive $1.9 million.

The administration's budget would eliminate the $10 million devoted to terrorist watch list integration. Ridge said that other agencies also participate in the watch list merger program, and the administration plans to complete the integration effort by mid-2004.

Less for Web portal

The budget includes a new $5 million line item for geospatial programs. The department's spending on its enterprise architecture and Web portal would fall slightly, from $14 million to $13 million.

The administration proposed an 8 percent increase in the Coast Guard budget to $7.47 billion, $678 million of which is earmarked to accelerate the service's Deepwater modernization plan, increasing it by $10 million over this year's funding. Some of the Deepwater funds would go to the Guard's Common Operating Picture technology at shore-based command centers as well as a logistics support system.

Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thomas H. Collins said the Guard's Deepwater contracts are flexible, 'so when we see something with IT where we have a glaring opportunity, we will have the ability to seize it.'

The Transportation Security Administration would receive an increase of $905 million over this year's funding, providing a total budget of $4.8 billion. Some of the new funds would be used to complete the Automated Known Shipper Database. Others would go to develop a risk-based air cargo screening system.

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