'09 budget request has IT spending on the rise

President Bush submitted his $3.1 trillion fiscal 2009 budget request to Congress today. It included $987.6 billion in discretionary spending, which is a $46.2 billion increase over the 2008 enacted budget. Bush directed most of the additional discretionary spending ? $44.9 billion ? for security programs, which left non-security discretionary spending up by just $1.3 billion or less than half a percent.

The federal information technology budget request for fiscal 2009 will rise by more than $4 billion. However, in actual appropriation terms, the IT budget will increase by only about $2 billion.

In the White House's request, agency IT spending would be $70.9 billion, up from a 2008 request of $66.4 billion ? a 6.3 percent increase. Congress appropriated $68 billion for 2008, which makes for a 3.8 percent change when comparing actual to requested dollars.

The Office of Management and Budget also for the first time is providing Congress with cost savings of more than $508 million from the 25 e-government and nine Lines of Business initiatives for 2007.

OMB asked agencies to report savings from the e-government and LOB projects in a 2006 memo, and starting in early 2007, agencies estimated costs for their current services impacted by these 34 initiatives.

An administration official said agencies submitted actual costs at the end of 2007 and from that information OMB could calculate savings.

"We are leveraging costing principles of A-76 that everyone seems to understand," the official said.

In all, only four agencies saw decreases in their IT budget requests over 2008 enacted, and OMB's IT budget remained the same at $4 million.

Agencies were estimated to spend $7.3 billion and in the end only spent $6.8 billion. Additionally, agencies shut down at least 43 systems that duplicated e-government and LOB services, the official added.

"We are happy with the $508 million in savings," the official said. "If we had more rigor and time, it would increase."

Agencies expecting the biggest increases include the departments of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development, the Agency for International Development and the National Science Foundation.

The Army Corps of Engineers will see the biggest decrease.

The rise in IT spending shows an upward trend from previous years when IT spending was flat or fell. For example, agencies in 2006 spent more than $66.2 billion, but in 2007, technology spending dropped to $64.9 billion.

In years past, much of the budget increase went to the Defense and Homeland Security departments. Last year, for instance, DOD received a $1.1 billion increase, while DHS saw its IT budget increase by more than $300 million. Most other agencies also saw significant increases, such as the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services and Treasury. Others such as NASA, and the Transportation and Justice departments saw their requests decrease.

OMB also reiterated in policy guidance to agencies, known as pass-back language, the goals of the Trusted Internet Connections initiative, including milestone dates, and continued to push agencies to move to financial management and human resources shared-services providers when the time is right, agency sources say.

The policy guidance also addressed the Grants Management Line of Business. Agencies were to have chosen one of the three grants consortia providers ? the Education Department, the Health and Human Services Department's Administration for Children and Families or the National Science Foundation ? or submit an appeal to OMB.

As of Dec. 31, nine agencies had signed an agreement to work with a consortia member. The Grants Management LOB program office also is conducting an analysis of appeals submitted by remaining agencies and is working with those agencies to align them with the program's goals, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT, in her Jan. 31 letter about the e-government initiative under the President's Management Agenda.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News and Federal Computer Week, 1105 Government Information Group publications.

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