IT is key to most budget priorities

IT is key to most budget priorities

Clinton seeks $39.7b for systems in 2001

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

The Clinton administration laced the fiscal 2001 budget proposal with information technology spending, including requests that would fund information security measures and electronic government initiatives.

But it is unclear how much of the funding in the proposal that President Clinton sent to Capitol Hill this month will make it through Congress, especially in a presidential election year. Republican lawmakers already are giving the Clinton proposal a cold reception.

As the administration did for the fiscal 2000 proposal, it wove IT items in with its 24 management priorities, more than half of which are dependent on technology.

The initiatives would push federal IT spending up to $39.7 billion next year, a 4 percent increase over the government's IT budget this year, according to Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va. The increase would affect systems initiatives governmentwide, Federal Sources president Thomas Sanders said.

The increases'and in a few cases decreases'vary from agency to agency. The budget would bump up IT spending by 35 percent at the Veterans Affairs Department, by 33 percent at the Labor Department, by 19 percent at the Treasury Department, by 18 percent at the Transportation Department, by 14 percent at the Justice Department and by 12 percent at the Education Department.

The Commerce Department's IT budget would decrease by 10 percent. But the president's proposal notes that the decrease is primarily tied to the fact that the agency had to spend heavily in recent years on the 2000 Census.

The Defense Department would continue its recent trend of relatively flat spending, although IT represents an increasing percentage of spending departmentwide, Sanders said.

Overall, DOD's systems budget would drop by 1 percent, he said. Of the services, only the Air Force would see its systems budget rise, by 2 percent. The Navy's IT budget would dip by 4 percent; the Army's would be scaled back by 2 percent.

The administration noted that it wants to build on the government's success in preparing systems for the 2000 rollover. The budget document said that the fiscal 2000 proposal had identified the date code problem as the No. 1 management priority.

'The federal government's acknowledged success through the date change was the direct result of the commitment, long hours and exceptional efforts of federal employees,' the budget proposal said.

The most obvious addition to this year's priority list is cybersecurity. The Clinton administration has proposed $2.03 billion for cybersecurity initiatives in the next fiscal year [GCN, Jan. 24, Page 1].

On alert

'Protecting information systems that the federal government depends on and that are critical to the economy is growing in importance as society's use of technology and reliance on interconnected computer systems increases,' the proposal said.

The administration identified improving e-government services as another priority. 'New information technologies can make government easier to use,' the proposal said.

The administration estimated that by December, agencies would issue at least 100,000 digital certificates to exchange information securely with citizens.

Justice is requesting $23.4 billion for its fiscal 2001 budget for crime-fighting initiatives, with anti-cybercrime programs ranking high on its funding wish list.

'The technology age has significantly changed the way everyone does business, including criminals,' Attorney General Janet Reno said. 'For our society to be cybersafe, law enforcement must keep pace with the criminals of the new millennium.'

Justice plans to create a network of experts to help prevent and prosecute computer crimes.

Justice's budget includes $358 million to buy new management software and hardware, upgrade wiretapping systems, enhance cryptology equipment and increase DNA collection efforts.

At Energy, security is a major component of the fiscal 2001 request. Stinging from well-publicized security breaches at some of its labs, the department is seeking a $500 million increase to $6.6 billion for national security programs.

At Treasury, the top priority is the IRS' modernization effort. The proposed budget for IRS modernization totals $325 million.

Treasury has also requested funds to support its management operations: $55 million for the wireless Integrated Treasury Network, $6.2 million for the Human Resources Information System, $4 million for the Critical Infrastructure Protection program and $7 million for public-key infrastructure projects.

GCN staff writer Shruti Dat' contributed to this report.


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