IT Gets Slice of $20B Emergency Funds

IT Gets Slice of $20B Emergency Funds<@VM>Bush's Recovery Budget: Teasing Out IT

President Bush's $20 billion request casts IT in a large role.

President Bush's $20 billion emergency appropriations request is loaded with funding proposals for information technology initiatives to bolster computer security, improve airport security and provide training to counter biological and other threats.

The request sent to Congress Oct. 17 represents the second half of $40 billion in emergency funding approved in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bush had blanket authority to spend the first $20 billion as he saw fit, but must get congressional approval for the second $20 billion.

Industry sources said appropriations staff on Capitol Hill expect Congress to consider legislation allocating the money before it breaks for recess in mid- to late November.

While most of the requests are for non-IT related expenditures, such as beefing up physical security measures, grants for workers dislocated by the terrorist attacks and other disaster relief efforts, the proposed funding for individual agencies includes many items in which federal IT contractors will play a major role.

"When you look at the list, things don't immediately leap out at you. But when you dig in, [you] discover you need IT support," said Guy Copeland, vice president for information infrastructure advisory programs at Computer Sciences Corp. "Any expansion of anything almost guarantees there's a supporting expansion of IT services."

For example, the administration requested $1.7 million to complete a program known as Project Matrix, which will affect all kinds of IT programs, said Don Vincent, vice president of Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. in McLean, Va. Project Matrix is an effort by the Commerce Department's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office to identify important national security and public health infrastructures that support government operations.

Project Matrix examines which networks, nodes and assets within 14 federal agencies that if incapacitated or destroyed, would jeopardize the country's survival, have a serious effect on large groups of citizens and need immediate repair or replacement. The program includes assessing large physical systems, such as electrical, gas and water systems.

The money needed for Project Matrix is small "because it's primarily mental work," Copeland said. But the project will affect priorities, he said, "because you now have the list, you've identified the specific vulnerabilities, [and you must] buy the hardware or contract out" for the redundancies needed to protect those systems.

Another line item in the president's request seeks to protect a different kind of critical system. Almost $16 million was requested for the Internal Revenue Service, in part to replace equipment destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center, but also to continue protection of the government's taxpayer data.

Not surprisingly, there are numerous requests to increase security of all kinds. Accompanying those are dollars to increase manpower, with additional training requirements.

For instance, the Treasury Department would receive more than $13.8 million to provide basic and advanced training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for new sky marshals for the Federal Aviation Administration. The money also will cover training for Immigration and Naturalization Service agents, Border Patrol inspectors and others.

"This is one we're actively pursuing," said Paul Sparta, chairman and chief executive officer with Plateau Systems Ltd., a learning management company in Arlington, Va. Sparta said the Sept. 11 tragedy likely will spur a need for more training across many agencies.

Other training opportunities will fall within the Department of Health and Human Services, where $10 million apiece has been allocated to strengthening the National Disaster Medical System and to augment state and local health departments' training for responding to bioterrorism and emergencies.

One of the biggest training projects may be the administration's request for more than $108 million for the FAA to address airport security requirements, but the request also includes computer-based training modules.

Another segment of the IT industry that will find new opportunities is data management, which is needed by numerous agencies, perhaps none more than the Defense Department. The president requested the single largest amount, more than $7 billion, to address many military and intelligence needs. Of that total, about $1.4 billion is targeted to "increased situational awareness," enhancing intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting capabilities.

Given the bioterrorism risks the government now must prepare for, other agencies also are concerned with data management. Within HHS, for instance, the public health and social services emergency fund has a line item in the budget request for $61 million to improve the frequency and quality of inspections of imported food and to modernize the data system that tracks the results.

"The two biggest problems or issues the government has are how do they integrate the incredible volume and diversity of information, [and] even more daunting, how do they interpret it," said Jeff Babcock, vice president of SAS Institute Inc., Cary, N.C., a maker of datamining and decision support software.

One reason the challenge is so vast is that the unstructured information coming in is so diverse, Babcock said. Sorting out voice, e-mail, documents and video data, "all that stuff has to be analyzed and interpreted [to] get rid of the 90 percent that's noise," he said.

Vincent at Booz-Allen agreed that data management is key.

"If I had to pick research projects to pursue, I would look at ways to improve my ability to receive data, to share information [and] to connect to other systems," Vincent said.Commerce Department

$7.3 million for salaries and expenses, part of which will go to an emergency notification system.

$8.25 million for grants to public broadcasters to restore broadcasting facilities and capabilities destroyed in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Defense Department

$1.4 billion for increased situational awareness, including enhanced U.S. intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting capabilities.

$219 million for improved command and control, including increased network security, procurement of additional communications gear and enhanced network reliability and connectivity.

Energy Department

$3.5 million for increased security measures and accelerated deployment of the civilian Biological Aerosol Sentry and Information System.

Health and Human Services

$61 million to enhance the imported food inspections and modernize the import data system.

$40 million for early detection surveillance, including $10 million for Epi-X, a secured Web-based disease notification and surveillance system; and $30 million for the Health Alert Network.

$13 million for emergency communications so HHS can direct and coordinate operations with HHS agencies and response teams and improve linkages with key external agencies.

$10 million for response surge capacity to international threats, including international cooperation for surveillance and education.
Justice Department

$538.5 million for salaries and expenses that includes spending by the FBI for new field investigators, intelligence analysts and language translators, headquarters and field cybercrime investigators, improved DNA systems and enhanced information technology operations and security.

$339.4 million for salaries and expenses that also includes spending for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to enhance its intelligence and information technology capabilities.

Transportation Department

$300 million to upgrade aircraft cockpit security through cooperative agreements with air carriers. Funding will go to strengthening cockpit doors, adding locking devices, improving cabin surveillance and upgrading aircraft transponders.

$108.5 million to accelerate the purchase of planned security equipment for airport baggage and passenger screening as well as the purchase of explosives detection systems, trace detection devices, threat-image projection X-rays and computer-based training modules.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.

Trending

contracts DB