DHS seeks budget boost for border control, immigration enforcement

Secretary Michael Chertoff is expected today to ask for a 7 percent budget increase for the Homeland Security Department for fiscal 2007, raising the department's funding to $35.6 billion, according to budget documents to be released today.

More money would flow to border control, immigration enforcement and nuclear detection, while funding for state and local anti-terrorism grants would decrease.
The $2.3 billion increase reflects many priorities highlighted in Chertoff's Second-Stage Review, completed in mid-2005.

The budget includes $935 million for the Coast Guard's Deepwater modernization program; $536 million, which is a 70 percent increase, for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office created last year; and $461 million for the Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment. All of those programs have IT components.

Budget authority for the agency CIO's account, which includes funding for departmentwide investments in IT and operating expenses, would be $336 million under the president's request, up from $294 million in 2006.

As part of the Secure Border Initiative, the budget includes $100 million for new cameras, sensors, unmanned surveillance vehicles and other new technologies to be integrated along the Mexican and Canadian borders, up from $31 million in 2006. The technology enhancement portion, formerly known as America's Shield Initiative, eventually is expected to cost more than $2 billion, according to industry officials, but today's budget documents do not provide estimates of the overall project cost.

The National Cyber Security Division is slated to receive $93 million in 2007 under the budget plan, which includes funding for the Computer Emergency Response Team.

As it did last year, the Bush Administration also intends to seek $600 million for new Targeted Infrastructure Protection grants for privately-owned critical infrastructure such as water utilities, power grids, IT facilities, pipelines, hospitals and financial services facilities. Congress declined to fund the program in 2006.

In state and local grant programs, Chertoff is expected to recommend $838 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants. State Homeland Security grants would be reduced to $633 million, a reduction of $305 million. In 2007, the department will set basic standards for creating interoperability, or compatibility, in emergency communication systems in major cities and regions. Urban areas will be required to plan for and implement interoperability and states will be required to develop interoperability plans.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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