Homeland IT funds go to INS, cybersecurity

Homeland IT funds go to INS, cybersecurity

Which agencies get homeland security IT dollars?


  • $7 million for Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office
  • $15 million for NIST's Computer Security Division


  • $60 million for Priority Wireless Access
  • $30 million for Cyber Warning Intelligence Network


  • $20 million for National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center


  • $11 million for Federal Computer Incident Response Center
  • $5 million for GovNet feasibility study


  • $125 million for National Infrastructure Protection Center


  • $11 million for Cyber Corps scholarships


  • $15 million for other IT and information sharing

  • The administration's fiscal 2003 budget allocates $722 million for IT in homeland security.

    'The role IT will play is considerable,' homeland security chief Tom Ridge said, even though its funding amounts to less than 2 percent of the total $37.7 billion proposed this month for homeland security.

    More than half of the IT money'$380 million'will go to a single program: the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Entry-Exit Visa System. Most of the rest will go toward cybersecurity programs such as the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center.

    Those figures do not include money earmarked for IT in other areas of the homeland security budget, for example, $350 million for emergency response equipment and $202 million for a medical communications infrastructure to aid in the fight against bioterrorism.

    Nor do they include spending in other budget areas required by the Government Information Security Reform Act.

    'Agency infrastructure spending is increasing to $4.2 billion from $2.7 billion to address GISRA gaps,' said Mark Forman, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for IT and e-government.

    A work in progress

    So far, the homeland security budget is a work in progress and will become clearly defined only with the next fiscal year's budget. The president has called the proposed $37.7 billion a down payment, and one of the tasks of Ridge's Homeland Security Office is to develop a national strategy.

    'We will give the president a blueprint and three-year budget numbers for the capacity we want to build sometime in the middle of this year,' Ridge said. 'The 2004 budget would embody these additions and more initiatives.'

    The current proposal is a stopgap measure based on needs identified in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and anthrax infections, Ridge said.

    'As we dealt with the 2003 budget, some clear priorities emerged,' he said. They are to support emergency first responders, defend against bioterrorism, secure national borders and use 21st-century technology in homeland defense.
    Ridge's office has identified a core set of technology funding priorities:

  • National Infrastructure Protection Center: $125 million, an increase of more than $50 million over fiscal 2002

  • Cyberspace Warning Intelligence Network: $30 million to develop an early-warning system linking government and private organizations

  • Priority Wireless Access: $60 million to develop a system to give authorized users priority use of cellular phone networks in an emergency

  • National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center: $20 million to fund an Energy Department research facility

  • GovNet feasibility: $5 million to study a private governmentwide network for mission-critical uses

  • Cyber Corps Scholarships for Service: $11 million for IT security studies in exchange for working for the government after graduation.

    The largest single IT item in the homeland security budget is the $380 million INS Entry-Exit Visa System to monitor foreign visitors.

    'We are beginning to work on the monitoring system,' Ridge said. 'We are trying an experimental system with Canada using biometrics to identify permanent residents who travel back and forth.'

    Ridge signed a Smart Border Declaration with Canada in December, but it does not specify the technology to be used. It is part of a larger Smart Border program that would integrate information among U.S. agencies that deal with border security.

    The system would track arrivals and departures of noncitizens, opening up access to other databases. That would let INS officials deny entry to unwelcome persons and keep track of noncitizens already in the country.

    Most of the other IT money in the homeland security budget is for programs to ease data flow among federal agencies and among federal, state and local governments.
  • About the Author

    William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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