DHS gets IT increase

"Increases in the budget will allow us to expand and improve projects and programs as well as build new barriers to terrorists." ? Tom Ridge, DHS secretary

Henrik G. de Gyor

The proposed fiscal 2005 budget for the Department of Homeland Security includes substantial new funding for aviation security, biodefense and state and local first response.

DHS' IT spending proposal is the second highest among civilian agencies. President Bush is asking for more than $4.4 billion for information technology, compared to $4.1 billion in fiscal 2004.

The department's overall budget request for fiscal 2005 is $40.2 billion, a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2004.

"Protecting the homeland continues to be a critical priority for this administration," said Tom Ridge, DHS secretary. "Increases in the 2005 budget will allow us to expand and improve projects and programs as well as build new barriers to terrorists."

The overall budget request includes $5.3 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, an increase of $890 million over 2004 funding.

Greg Baroni, president of the government unit of Unisys Corp., Blue Bell, Pa., greeted the budget request for TSA as good news. Unisys holds a $1 billion contract for building TSA's infrastructure.

"The 20 percent increase shows the government is realizing that TSA is maturing out of a startup state, and that there are still some initial funds needed," he said.

Initial IT funds went to basic connectivity of TSA sites nationwide: laptops, cells, pagers, printers and basic Internet, Baroni said. Now, TSA is entering a phase of technology deployment that begins optimizing investments to improve deployment of screener staff and implement secure broadband Internet access.

TSA's portion of the budget includes $85 million for air cargo security. Its Science and Technology Directorate would get $61 million to accelerate more effective technologies to counter the threat of portable anti-aircraft missiles.

DHS also is requesting $3.6 billion for state and local first responders through the Office of Domestic Preparedness.

DHS and the Health and Human Services Department will provide $274 million to fund a Bio-Surveillance Program initiative to protect the nation against bioterrorism and strengthen public health infrastructure, Ridge said.

The proposed budget also provides $2.5 billion for Project BioShield, a 186 percent increase over 2004 funding. BioShield allows the government to pre-purchase critically needed vaccines and medications for biodefense. The program also encourages development of medical countermeasures to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.

To improve biosurveillance, DHS' Science and Technology Directorate will receive $65 million to enhance environmental monitoring activities, bringing the total fiscal 2005 investment in this area to $118 million governmentwide. A key component will be expansion and deployment of next-generation technologies related to the BioWatch Program, a biosurveillance warning system.

The proposed budget allocates $864.6 million for information analysis and infrastructure protection, a 3 percent increase over 2004 funding. The budget includes $79.8 million for threat determination and assessment through expansion of the National Cyber Security Division, which is responsible for enhancing cybersecurity through a public-private partnership.

The information analysis and infrastructure protection funding also includes $1.9 million for expansion of so-called cyberexercises. The funding provides for simulations to test critical infrastructures for vulnerability to cyberattack.

Unlike physical infrastructure security, cybersecurity cuts across all sectors of the economy, so it is one of the top priorities for the department and the administration, Ridge said.

The budget also includes $3.5 billion for state and local first response that will be administered through the Office of Domestic Preparedness. The state and local funding includes $1.4 billion for the Urban Area Security Initiative, double the fiscal 2004 funding for the program. The initiative seeks to provide additional funding for high-threat urban areas.

"When you are preparing a budget, nothing helps more than getting a raise," Ridge said. "For homeland security, a raise means we can take additional steps to increase and improve measures that we already have in place, and add to them programs that rely on the most advanced technology to keep us safe."

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