2007 IT budget to be mostly flat

DOD, DHS, VA to receive the largest increases

The 2007 federal budget is going to look awfully familiar to most agency IT chiefs.

As has been the case in recent years, the new budget, which President Bush releases today, will include a slight increase in IT spending from last year, with the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs receiving the biggest increases, agency officials and outside observers said.

Most other agencies are expected to see roughly the same level of funding as they did last year, give or take a few percentage points, officials said.

President Bush offered a slight preview of his budget request in his State of the Union address last week, when he told Congress that he will cut the growth of nonsecurity-related discretionary spending and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs 'that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities.' These efforts should save taxpayers about $14 billion next year, he said.

Last year, Bush submitted a combined IT budget of $65.1 billion'a 7.1 percent increase from 2005, with Defense, DHS and VA leading the way.

In particular, De- fense received a $1.9 billion increase to $30.1 billion, while DHS saw a $1.2 billion boost to $5.9 billion.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, recently predicted the federal IT budget would continue to grow. He said at a conference in Redmond, Wash., that it could increase to $90 billion by 2010.

'Overall, the IT budget is up,' one agency official said, who predicted the IT budget will increase by less than five percent. 'The winners include DOD, DHS and VA, while most others are flat.'

Still, a VA official, requesting anonymity, said any increase for that agency would be minuscule and could actually hamper some of its programs.

'The administration proposed a little bigger IT budget, but it's so modest as to be flat,' this official said. 'There is so little change, it's just about keeping things going and moving on. It will make things challenging.'

Congressional and agency sources said the IT portfolio at the Energy Department will actually slip a bit from last year, although the administration is expected to ask for more money for R&D, which Energy uses to build supercomputers.

Congressional sources expect DOD to see a similar emphasis on R&D.

Another agency likely facing a cut is the Housing and Urban Development De-partment, where CIO Lisa Schlosser is already prepared.

'We've gotten some cuts, but they're program cuts,' Schlosser said. 'We put in place an enterprise infrastructure contract that has absolutely saved the department a lot of IT money that we've been able to move back into programs.'

Elsewhere, the Transportation and Labor departments should see their IT budgets remain flat, said current and former government officials.

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