Bush budget will boost IT spending to $52 billion in 2003

The Bush administration's fiscal 2003 budget request will include $52 billion for information technology spending, a 15 percent boost over current spending, according to Mark Forman, associate director for information technology and e-government in the Office of Management and Budget.

The federal government will spend about $45 billion on information technology in 2002.

Forman spoke about the fiscal 2003 federal budget in a Feb. 1 conference call with reporters. The budget will be released Feb. 4.

IT spending will focus on three major presidential objectives: winning the war on terrorism, improving homeland security and improving the economy, Forman said.

The budget includes 900 major projects collectively worth $18 billion, and 2,000 smaller projects worth $11.5 billion, representing nearly $30 billion in spending on IT solutions backed by solid business cases, he said.

The budget emphasizes several management priorities, Forman said, including:

*Simplifying and unifying systems and processes, eliminating redundant IT investments;

*Making it easier for citizens to get government services;

*Improving program management;

*Ensuring security of information systems;

*Implementing e-business practices such as electronic procurement.

Information security spending is a significant, growing portion of the IT budget, Forman said, although he declined to say how much money would be spent in this area. Forman also did not release a figure on e-government spending, but said: "The president pledged to ask for $100 million over three years. We are standing by that pledge."

Congress gave $5 million to a new e-government fund in the 2002 budget, $15 million less than President Bush requested.

Forman said increases in information security spending are attributed to the following:

*Efforts to improve homeland security;

*Comply with the Government Information Security Reform Act, which requires federal agencies to assess the security of their nonclassified information systems;

*Fulfill OMB's requirement that agencies include security plans in their budget requests in order to get funding.

However, he said money is not what is most needed to improve IT security.

"We are not going to spend our way [to better security]," he said. "The fundamental driver of improving security is management, and I am going to stick to that. We have to have appropriate management attention to it."

The $52 billion figure does not include classified systems or block grant programs, which include money for state and local e-government programs, Forman said.

The budget does not include a plan for a federal chief information officer, he said. Several members of Congress and IT industry executives had called for a federal CIO, a position of greater authority over the agencies, but have taken a wait-and-see approach since Forman's appointment last June.

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