DHS denied full funding pending improvements

The Homeland Security Department is facing $1.3 billion in financial penalties imposed by a House Subcommittee against DHS' Science and Technology directorate, Customs and Border Patrol's Automation Modernization, U.S. Visitor Immigration Status Indicator Technology program and Secure Border Initiative, among other programs, in next year's budget.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security last week approved $33.1 billion in spending for the department for fiscal 2007, but withheld $1.3 billion of the total until DHS produces various plans and reports. The full Appropriations Committee and Congress must ratify the provisions before they become law.

Under the subcommittee's approved bill, Science and Technology would lose out on $498 million "until the directorate provides an expenditure plan to backup its poor budget justification and improves its financial management systems," states a news release from subcommittee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). An extra $5 million ws withheld from the directorate "for lack of responsiveness," according to the news release.

The Customs and Border Patrol's automation modernization account would not receive $351 million until an expenditure plan is approved. The same applies to the U.S. Visit program that checks visitors entering the United States. It would not receive a budgeted $312 million until it obtains an approved expenditure plan. U.S. Visit's total funding is pegged at $362 million for the year.

SBINet?the administration's $2 billion plan to build a comprehensive surveillance system at the nation's northern and southern borders?will experience the withholding of $25 million until an expenditure plan for SBINet technology and tactical infrastructure is submitted and approved, the release said.

The subcommittee also said the spending legislation "requires an SBI strategic plan to ensure that this new initiative has clear goals and a sound strategy for achieving operational control of the borders."

The bill provides $19.6 billion for border protection and immigration, an increase of $1.6 billion over fiscal 2006 levels, including $3.98 billion for Secure Border "technology, personnel and infrastructure," the release said.

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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