Homeland budget to increase 9% in '05, Input says

A Senate committee's proposal for the Homeland Security Department's budget would increase spending in fiscal 2005 by 9.4 percent over the previous year, according to a new report from IT market research firm Input Inc. of Reston, Va.

The Senate bill allocates about $33 billion to the Homeland Security Department in 2005 -- $2.8 billion more than in fiscal 2004, according to the report, which will be published tomorrow.

In its report, Input analyzed spending recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The full Senate still must approve the bill, and it must be reconciled with the corresponding House bill, which the House approved in June.

The biggest spending increases in the bill are for bioterrorism countermeasures; air, marine and land security; and Coast Guard modernization, according to Input.

The Coast Guard would get the biggest boost ? $705 million over its 2004 allocation. Its total budget would be $7.5 billion. The modernization program, called Deepwater, would get $776 million, $112 million more than it did the previous year.

Another big spending boost would go toward countermeasures to biological agents, according to the report. The proposed budget allocates $346.3 million for 2005, $149 million more than the previous year.

The Senate's proposed bill includes $5.2 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, a $649 million boost over 2004. Among the TSA programs that would get big spending boosts are Airport Information Technology, which is budgeted at $292.9 million, $154 million more than in 2004.

State and local governments could lose funds for first responders under the proposed budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended that $250 million be cut from grant funds for first responders, leaving $3.75 billion for the grants.

Grant spending through the Urban Area Security Initiative, however, would get a $480 million funding increase in 2005 -- to $1.2 billion. The initiative includes grants for port security, rail and transit security, intercity bus security and trucking industry security, as well as emergency planning and exercises.

The committee's other recommendations include:
  • $22 million for departmentwide technology investments such as hardware, software and services

  • $70 million for development and deployment of the new department human resources management system

  • $100 million for expanding and improving wireless communications.

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