Napolitano plans to spend millions for IT

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outlined plans today for spending several hundred million dollars on information technology programs as part of the department’s $55.1 billion fiscal 2010 budget request.

“This budget contains important investments in technologies that will allow [Homeland Security Department] officers to perform their security tasks more quickly and with greater accuracy,” Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee.

The funding request includes $564 million for electronic baggage-screening systems that will check for explosives and $121 million for research into explosives detection. That research program, conducted by DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate, focuses on non-nuclear explosives used in terrorist attacks against mass transit systems, airplanes and critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program for recording digital fingerprints of visitors from other countries would receive $356 million under the proposal. Napolitano said an $11.2 million increase would support increased workload demands associated with the transition to collecting all 10 fingerprints.

E-Verify, the electronic system that allows employers to check Social Security numbers of prospective employees, would receive $112 million under the proposed budget. The money would pay for monitoring and compliance and for IT initiatives that seek to improve the system’s operation. The Obama administration has temporarily suspended a mandate that federal contractors must use the E-Verify system while officials conduct a review of the program.

DHS is also requesting $95 million for BioWatch, which uses sensors in 30 cities to detect airborne biological agents. The funding includes field-testing of the next generation of sensors and a secure IT architecture to facilitate networking between systems, Napolitano said.

Other items in the budget request include:

  • $49 million to fund the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Law Enforcement Systems Modernization initiative, including management, information sharing and operational support services projects to improve access to law enforcement information.
  • $37 million for cybersecurity research — an increase of $6.6 million — to help with activities outlined in the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.
  • $34 million for the Secret Service’s IT initiatives, including secure cross-domain applications, engineering, and architectures to improve information sharing, database performance, cybersecurity and continuity of operations.
  • $25 million for improvements to the Detainee Location Tracking Module, part of ICE’s Bed Space and Transportation Management System.
  • $23 million to support network security enhancements, Internet gateway enhancements, and single sign-on capabilities.
  • $20 million to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection improve situational awareness along the country’s northern border.
  • $2 million to support the operational costs of 13 Electronic Crimes Task Forces and DHS-mandated certification and accreditation of the Secret Service’s online reporting system.
  • $1 million to establish a permanent Biometrics at Sea system to allow the Coast Guard to collect and share information on illegal migrants intercepted at sea.
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