Homeland seeks budget boost for IT infrastructure improvements

The White House is seeking a 21.2 percent increase in the IT budget for the Homeland Security Department in fiscal 2007, bringing the total to $4.41 billion, according to budget documents released by the Office of Management and Budget.

IT increases are slated for departmentwide IT infrastructure; U.S. Visit foreign visitor screening at borders, Secure Flight passenger screening at airports, Integrated Wireless Network for law enforcement, Homeland Security Information Network connecting the DHS operations center to state and local agencies, CIO's office; and America's Shield Initiative IT integration at the borders, among other programs.

The total amount of IT funding for DHS requested would increase by $772 million, from $3.64 billion IT budget this year. In fiscal 2005, DHS spent $3.4 billion in this category.

"The Department of Homeland Security continues to be a big winner in the budget request process," Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer with Federal Sources Inc., a market intelligence company in McLean, Va., said in a news release.

Within DHS, the Transportation Security Administration has the largest proposed rise in IT spending--$606 million, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency would see a drop in its IT budget to $77 million, down from $94 million, Bjorkland said.

The largest line item for IT within the department is the budget for IT infrastructure, which would expand to $954 million in 2007, up from $887 in 2006, the White House said. The portion devoted to new investment would increase to $222 million, up from $205 million.

U.S. Visit's IT budget would shift upward to $407 million, from $341 million this year. The program would receive a $60 million increase for deployment of 10 fingerprints and for conforming with the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, according to a separate budget summary provided by the Bush Administration.

Also in the budget, the Integrated Wireless Network?a joint program of DHS, Justice and Treasury?would receive $361 million, up from $261 million in 2006. The goal is to establish a common communications network for federal agents in those departments.

The America's Shield Initiative, which DHS officials previously have said has been folded into the Secure Border Initiative, would integrate cameras and sensors at the borders. Its IT budget would rise to $139 million, from $39 million in 2006, according to the OMB.

The CIO's IT Security program is aiming to be a center of excellence within the federal government with a budget of $58 million in fiscal 2007, up from $54 million this year and $31 million in 2005.

The Homeland Security Information Network, which links DHS with police, fire and emergency departments, would receive $23 million in fiscal 2007 under the president's plan, from $21 million this year.

Two other programs seeing increases include Registered Traveler, which will rise to $35 million from $23 million, and Secure Flight crew vetting, which will increase to $96 million from $94 million.

While the Homeland Security Operations Center won't gain much additional funding--$6 million in 2007 versus $5.5 million in 2006 and $9.3 million in 2005?there is a new IT line item for a "Common Operational Picture," which is software that enables parties at different locations to view comprehensive information about an incident at the same time. The common picture IT account would grow to $8.9 million next year, from $7 million in 2006 and $2.7 million in 2005, under the president's plan.

Overall, Secretary Michael Chertoff requested $42.7 billion in funding, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year. The programmatic budget for 2007 was to rise to $35.6 billion, an increase of 7 percent over 2006.

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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