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Agriculture

Officials in the Bush administration hope to trim about

$140 million from the Agriculture Department's information technology budget, while continuing to keep money flowing to the USDA's consolidated service centers project.

The president's IT budget request was $1.76 billion, a 7 percent cut from last year. But if it stands, the cut is unlikely to stymie the USDA's field office modernization program. The program, known as the Common Computing Environment, would receive about $136.7 million,

$41 million less than last year's request. With concern about mad cow disease at the top of the USDA's agenda, the president's $60 million budget request for mad cow-related research and monitoring includes $33 million to develop a national animal identification plan that would use technology to track animals from the farm to the slaughterhouse.

Treasury

The Treasury Department, normally one of the federal government's biggest IT spenders, would take a hit under the president's 2005 budget request.

Although the proposed IT budget of $2.7 billion is down 3.5 percent from last year's request, it includes $128 million — an increase of $14 million — for development of a new taxpayer database, a critical component of the Internal Revenue

Service's business systems modernization plan.

Treasury officials are asking for at least $285 million for the overall modernization program, down from last year's request of $429 million. For the IRS' modernized e-filing program, the budget earmarks $58.9 million, down from $73.9 million last year.

As a rule, antiterrorist activities fared well in the president's budget. The administration asked for $64.5 million — a 13 percent increase — for spending on Treasury activities that disrupt terrorist and criminal financing. One recipient would be the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Gateway, a secure information retrieval system shared by federal, state and local law enforcement officials who monitor illegal financial transfers.

Transportation

Key IT programs at the Federal Aviation Administration received an increase in the budget request, even though the Transportation Department's overall IT spending decreased. The budget earmarked $2.78 billion for DOT's IT spending, slightly less than last year.

The FAA's Telecommunications Infrastructure program, a 15-year effort to

create a single telecom network,

would increase about $71 million, to $174.3 million, for

fiscal 2005.

One major program, the Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures system, faces a decline in spending. Designed to replace existing FAA systems responsible for managing aircraft over the oceans, ATOP would receive $119.7 million in 2005, down from its 2004 level of

$139 million.

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