Justice IT budget dwindles in FY 2008

While IT funding may increase for State

Domestic agencies generally fared poorly in the 2008 budget proposal, and law enforcement technology spending appears to reflect that reality.

But the State Department's technology arm appears to have both gained control over IT money formerly managed by other agency organizations and bumped up some of its own systems spending.

The draft Justice Department IT spending plan calls for increases in various FBI and technology projects seeded throughout the department's overall discretionary funding request of $21.8 billion, according to the department's press release.

Detailed funding proposals point to flat or declining funding levels for several flagship programs, such as the Justice Information Sharing Technology program. That project, which covers IT investments across the department, is set to see its total new budget authority dwindle from $103 million in fiscal 2007 to $101 million next year.

The JIST account covers signature programs like the Joint Automated Booking System, the Justice Consolidated Office Network, the Litigation Case Management System, the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program and the Unified Financial Management System that help hold the department's largely independent bureaus together.

Justice's CIO, Vance Hitch, controls the JIST account and is in position to use it to harmonize the various operations.

But Justice's press release touted a $514 million boost to Interpol's links with state and local agencies. Using different yardsticks for the department's IT spending, Justice claimed that the draft budget, when taken as a whole, included $74.5 million in funds for new IT projects.

Justice claims a total IT program increase figure of $133.2 million for new IT projects, including projects affecting several department components. That statement in the department's press materials was not reflected in detailed budget documents.

Federal accounting methods, which include various types of transfers between programs and often redirection of funds among renamed projects, can render the analysis of such claims a matter of debate.

The FBI is slated to receive $7.1 billion in newly obligated funds in fiscal 2008, in contrast to a 2007 figure of $6.4 billion.

The bureau's 2008 IT work will partly fall under a $315 million proposed increase in projects to boost information sharing and communications as well as related systems work, according to budget documents.

One section of Justice's budget publicity materials referred to 2008 funding of "$47.5 million to advance the FBI's data intake, information sharing and IT project management mechanisms, as well as $11.5 million to improve the organization's data storage and work facilities." That statement could not be immediately correlated with detailed budget accounts.

The State Department is slated to receive $10 billion overall in 2008, according to budget documents. Technology spending will account for about $905 million of that figure, State said.

Budget tables indicate that State's Information Resources Management arm is set to control about $848.2 million of that figure. The IRM organization appears set to gain control over significant IT operations of other parts of the department, officials said.

For example, $509.3 million of IRM's budget kitty will flow from diplomatic and consular program accounts, $70.7 million from the department's Capital Investment Fund and about $270 million from various passport and visa fees.

State's IT Central Fund, another method of slicing the diplomatic technology apple, reflects a planned increase to $313 million in technology spending for more than a dozen projects, up from a comparable 2007 figure of $289 million.

Wilson P. Dizard III is a staff writer for Washington Technology's affiliate publication, Government Computer News.

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