Congress shrinks DHS CIO's purse, other IT programs

Congress shrinks DHS CIO's purse, other IT programs

As the Senate yesterday joined the House in passing a $29.4 billion Homeland Security Department appropriations bill, lawmakers increased total department funding by $1 billion over the administration's request. In the process, however, Congress reduced the budget of the homeland security CIO and reduced spending for some major IT programs.

CIO Steve Cooper's office saw its budget cut from an administration request of $82.2 million to $60.5 million, according to the report of the conference committee on HR 2555.

'This particular cut is of concern,' said Joe Draham vice president for government relations and congressional affairs of GTSI Corp. 'Of greater concern is the homeland CIO's ability to aggregate the IT budget responsibilities of the department in the fiscal year 2005 budget process. The department's ability to centralize its enterprise architecture and investment strategy is contingent on that happening.'

The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology System program was slated to receive $444.3 million in the administration's request, but Congress reduced funding to $330 million.

Also in the Directorate for Border and Transportation Security, the appropriations bill reduced funding for the Automated Commercial Environment/International Trade Data System from the administration's request of $441.1 million to $318.7 million.

Congress maintained funding for the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II at the administration's requested level of $35 million, but added restrictions on how the money could be spent. The restrictions include:

  • A requirement for providing an appeals procedure for passengers identified as potential terrorists by the system

  • Assuring that the underlying error rate of the databases to be used in the system do not produce a large number of false positives

  • Assuring that CAPPS II is protected from hacking.

  • The lawmakers looked kindly on the Coast Guard's Integrated Deepwater System, which includes funds for vessels and logistics as well as IT. For example, the bill increased funding for Deepwater's command, control, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from the administration's request of $80.4 million to $101.4 million.

    The Transportation Security Administration took a hit in its airport IT support account, which Congress reduced from $176.2 million to $139.1 million. A TSA credentialing program known as the Transportation Worker Identification Card suffered a reduction from the administration request of $55 million to $50 million.

    The department's Office of Domestic Preparedness, which issues grants for state and local homeland security programs that can include IT spending, saw an increase from the administration's request of $3.5 billion to $4 billion.

    The Science and Technology directorate, which funds research on new technologies for homeland security, received an increase from the administration's request of $803.4 million to $918.2 million.

    In one of the department's nonsecurity operations, the appropriations bill maintained spending for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Map Modernization Program at $200 million.

    Congress also reduced the administration's $206 million request for departmentwide technology investments to $185 million.

    Much of the additional IT spending in the bill is for dozens of provisions in the 136-page conference committee version of the bill that the House approved by 417-8 and the Senate cleared by voice vote. The bill now goes to President Bush for signature.


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