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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Don't sweat a flat IT budget

More details are emerging about President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal and a lot of attention has been paid to the numbers showing IT spending flat between fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

Unlike the macro budget numbers -- which I said weren’t really worth the ink they were printed on -- I think the more detailed IT summary is worth watching.

We get more detail on what the IT priorities are and while the actual numbers may change, the priorities won’t.

The numbers are mostly flat but that doesn’t mean that the budget won’t provide a rich set of opportunities. We are still talking about an $87.8 billion unclassified IT budget proposal for fiscal 2020, compared to $88 billion for 2019.

Civilian agencies would get $51 billion for 2020 compared to $50 billion in 2019. Defense takes a dip -- $36.7 billion in 2020, compared to $37.9 billion for 2019.

These budget proposal of course don't detail IT spending by intelligence agencies, which is classified and has shown signs of growth in recent years. Intelligence spending makes up for 20-25 percent of all federal IT spending, analysts at Vertical Research Partners wrote in a research note Tuesday.

We do know that the Trump White House wants $86 billion in overall intelligence funding for fiscal 2020, 6-percent more than last year.

There is also the embedded IT on weapons platforms, military satellites and C4ISR systems among others.

The budget proposal's priorities center around technology modernization, cloud adoption, and improving the IT and cybersecurity workforce.

Agencies and contractors also should expect continued scrutiny of high-risk projects and the need to show progress on mitigating those risks.

The U.S. Digital Service gets called out as an important tool for improving citizen services and engagement, another priority of this budget.

When you start looking at individual agency and department budgets look for priorities and initiatives that tie back into the President’s Management Agenda. There is an emphasis on addressing structural issues and creating more collaboration and coordination among the agencies.

Shared services are another area where we should expect more activity. It is called out in the section on the Technology Modernization Fund, which still has a paltry $150 million request. But there will be shared services activities outside of the fund’s projects. So keep an eye on new opportunities that could arise there.

The thing to keep in mind is that this budget puts an emphasis on innovation.

So yes, the IT budget is flat, but don’t panic. There is still plenty of gold in those hills.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 19, 2019 at 9:58 AM

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