Revised 2009 IT budget released

Every February the administration ceremoniously releases its annual federal budget to Congress for the coming fiscal year. And like clockwork, lobbyists, the media and other analysts pick apart the numbers to discern which agencies and programs have gained or lost budgetary favor.

Remarkably little fanfare, however, accompanies the revised budget figures which the Office of Management and Budget releases each spring. And that was the case yesterday when OMB posted new budget figures for fiscal 2009 on its Web site.

For those who track overall federal information technology spending plans, the revisions were something of a relief: The original IT spending request for fiscal 2009 ' $70.9 billion ' was trimmed by just $198 million. And the Bush administration's overall priorities, announced Feb. 7, to increase attention on IT security, remains the same.

Most of the budget trimmings occurred among agencies with multibillion-dollar IT budgets, including the Air Force and the departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security. But some smaller agencies incurred sizable cutbacks, most notably the U.S. Agency for International Development, which saw its $176 million IT budget cut to $103 million. At the same time, the Agriculture, Commerce and Justice departments, along with the agencies in the Defense Department, had their IT budgets increased.

Commerce will likely need what additional IT funds it can get in light of its decision to retreat from an IT project that would have armed census takers with mobile field collection devices.

The most significant change in the latest budget release was a revision for IT spending in fiscal 2007 which showed the Army had spent $9.5 billion on IT, or $2.7 billion more in fiscal 2007, than was reported in OMB's initial February report.

In a related report, OMB also revised its 2008 Management Watch List and High Risk List, reporting lower numbers than those released with the fiscal 2009 budget proposal in February. The Management Watch List reflects proposed information technology investments, not individual programs. The new list includes 473 investments, a 19 percent drop from the original 585. The High Risk List declined from 601 projects to 489, also a 19 percent drop.The updated fiscal 2009 IT budget report from OMB, including an agency-by-agency breakout of IT spending plans, can be found here.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.


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