Federal IT spending is strong in wake of attacks

Federal IT spending is strong in wake of attacks

Although the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are changing the government's IT priorities, its overall spending on computer technology will rise 15 percent over last year's, according to an industry trade group survey that was released yesterday.

Federal agencies likely will spend a total of $49 billion on IT in fiscal 2002, a full 15 percent more than they did in fiscal 2001, said representatives of the Government Electronics and IT Association. The total will be split almost equally between the civilian and defense sectors'$24.2 billion and $25 billion, respectively.

By fiscal 2007, the annual federal IT budget will soar to $65 billion in today's dollars, according to the GEIA forecast.

In just one year, the government has gone from 'a surplus we didn't know how to spend' to deficit spending, said Mary B. Freeman, federal market research manager for Verizon Communications Inc. The trend had started before the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center but has since accelerated, she said.

GEIA representatives had largely finished their annual survey of more than 275 agency officials, congressional staff members and Wall Street analysts when the attacks took place.

When the representatives did follow-up interviews with officials and analysts over the last few weeks, they were told of new requirements for system redundancy, security and telecommunications over multiple paths, Freeman said. Some agencies are being asked to trim some programs for a year or two to help pay for the new requirements.

Before Sept. 11, civilian agencies had been maintaining their IT status quo while awaiting guidance from the new administration, said Jeanmarie Klitzner of Computer Sciences Corp.

No one knows yet which agency functions will be transferred to the new Office of Homeland Security, Klitzner said. President Bush this week signed the executive order creating the new Cabinet-level office and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge was sworn in to lead it [see story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/17155-1.html].

In the new era, agencies will be more apt to use quick-turnaround contracting vehicles, such as sole-source and governmentwide acquisition contracts, to fulfill their critical needs, Klitzner said.


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