IT fares well in '99 budget plan

The $1.7 trillion spending plan, the first balanced budget in years, reflects the
Clinton administration's push for a streamlined government.


"The administration has an ambitious agenda to continue reinventing government so
that it is more effective, more efficient and more responsive to the American
people," the budget policy statement said.


The administration is promoting better IT use, smarter technology investments, better
financial management and the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act.


Conspicuously absent were some year 2000 date code details. Although Clinton mentioned
the problem in his budget message and listed it as a top priority, few agency budgets in
the proposal earmarked their 2000 cost estimates.


The Office of Management and Budget has said the government will spend $3.9 billion to
prepare its systems for 2000.


"The budget proposes adequate funding to address the problem," the budget
policy statement said.


The Defense Department will spend $275 million on date codes in 1999, for example, and
Treasury plans to spend $312 million, according to the document. Agencies have identified
8,589 mission-critical systems, of which 26 percent are year 2000-ready, OMB said.


The State Department budget was one of few that even mentioned date code costs, noting
only that "in fiscal years 1998 and 1999, resources will be focused" on year
2000 work.


IRS said it will spend $87 million in 1999; a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman
said the FAA did not list year 2000 costs because most work will be done this year.


But many systems analysts said the lack of detail is another indication the
administration is not taking the issue seriously enough.


Most of the attention has come from Capitol Hill, not the administration, said Bob
Deller, president of Market Access International Inc. of Chevy Chase, Md.


"The fact that [OMB officials] haven't updated the number ... indicates they're
not all that sensitized to the impending crisis," he said.


IT projects that support popular programs such as law enforcement, immigration and tax
processing will likely get full funding. Respectively, the departments of Justice,
Treasury and Education notched the largest increases.


The proposal includes some notable IT programs:


Justice would get $50 million for systems to promote sharing investigative data
departmentwide.


The FBI would receive $48 million for its Integrated Automated Fingerprint
Identification System.


The Immigration and Naturalization Service would receive $14.6 million for border
enforcement technologies, and the administration has proposed $37 million to implement the
counterterrorism recommendations of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure
Protection.


A large part of the Treasury IT budget is earmarked for IRS and its troubled tax
systems programs. The budget allocated $1.6 billion for IT, up from $1.3 billion this
year. But $1.4 billion of that money is earmarked for operational systems; only $125
million would be spent on systems development. Another $325 million would go to paying a
prime contractor to modernize IRS tax systems.


The Customs Service would receive $56 million for its Automated Commercial Environment
project.


At the Commerce Department, the Census Bureau would see its budget jump to $199 million
from $80 million this year. The budget earmarked $25 million for data processing systems,
$9 million for the Electronic Information Collection system and $43 million for geographic
support systems.


For State, the president proposed a budget of $118 million for next year, including $76
million for infrastructure work, $19 million for software development, $5 million for
project management and training and $18 million for overseas telecommunications upgrades.


Much of the Transportation Department's IT budget is targeted for FAA's Air Traffic
Control system modernization. The president proposed $1.4 billion for maintenance and
improvements there.

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