OMB crunches numbers, revises 2007 IT budget forecast

At first glance, the administration heralded its commitment to technology in the fiscal 2007 IT budget, raising the request by more than 2.8 percent over this year.

But in a closer analysis of the numbers from agencies over the past month, the Office of Management and Budget revealed that the White House's IT request will increase by only 0.5 percent over 2006 to $63.8 billion, from $63.5 billion.

Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for IT and e-government, today said these new numbers do not reflect a change in the administration's reliance on or dedication to IT, but a clearer understanding of the budget request. The President sent the 2007 budget to Congress Feb. 6.

"We asked the agencies to finalize their exhibit 53s based on the budget decisions as a part of the regular budget process as decisions are made about programs," Evans said at a luncheon in Washington sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council and the American Technology Council. "This is consistent with everything we have been saying and with the president's priorities. IT is a high-risk investment, but we need to invest in it."

OMB originally said the IT budget request would be $64.2 billion, or a $1.7 billion increase. But after receiving more information, especially from the Defense Department, OMB found agencies received more money in 2006 and asked for less money in 2007. The net increase would be $316 million, Evans said.

"These numbers reflect the final decisions that the administration made throughout January," Evans said. "All IT is related to programs, and as decisions are made on programs and priorities, the numbers can change."

Evans said agencies give OMB their final numbers in January, and OMB sends the budget to the Government Printing Office to be prepared for February release. But between the printing of the budget and the release, the amount of money going to specific programs could change, affecting the amount of money being requested for IT as well, Evans added.

DOD had the largest request swing, changing by more than $1 billion. It went from an increase of $103 million to $30.5 billion to a decrease of $952 million to $30.7 billion as compared to its 2006 enacted funds.

OMB also provided specific breakdowns for the Army, Navy and Air Force departments, and for the Defense agencies:
  • Air Force requested $7.3 billion, up $190 million

    • Army would receive $7.5 billion, down $445 million
        The Navy would receive $5.7 billion, down, $81 million
          The Defense agencies asked for $10.7 billion, down $616 million.

        The Homeland Security Department also saw its request drop to $520 million instead of $772 million for next year.

        The Health and Human Services Departments also saw its IT request decrease after OMB's analysis to $5.1 billion from $5.4 billion.

        Evans also said funding Health IT projects would be $1 billion less than originally expected, dropping to $4.6 billion for 2007.

        The new figures also affect how much money agencies are spending on IT security, development and modernization of IT systems, the Lines of Business Consolidation projects and every other part of the budget.

        "We still are increasing our investments across the board," Evans said.

        Jason Miller is assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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