2008 budgets take shape

Agencies could see an uptick in fiscal 2008 spending

Lawmakers are working on 10 appropriations bills for the rest of the federal government, in addition to the spending bill for the Homeland Security Department. The bills generally give federal agencies more money to spend on informations technology projects in 2008 than they had in 2007.

AGRICULTURE
Senate: The subcommittee has not marked up its bill.
House: The subcommittee has not marked up its bill. A scheduled June 15 markup was canceled.

COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE AND RELATED AGENCIES
Senate: The full committee passed it June 28.
House: The subcommittee passed it June 11.
Highlights: House lawmakers made state and local law enforcement funding the primary focus of the bill, boosting police budgets $1.7 billion more than the president’s request for $53.6 billion.

The bill includes increased funding for climate change initiatives at NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Commerce Department. The bill includes more than $28 billion in competitive research and science education funding, which is almost $1 billion more than the president requested.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology would receive $500 million, an increase of $137 million compared with the president’s request.

The House gave NASA $290 million more than the administration requested.

The bill prohibits using funds to implement a provision of the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-76 that denies federal employees the appeals rights that contractors have in A-76 public/private job competitions.

The Senate bill allocates $56.4 billion for the agencies. It provides $7.35 billion for the Commerce Department, $754 million more than the president’s budget request and $725 million more than  the 2007 level. The bill provides $863 million for NIST, $186 million more than the 2007 level and $222 million more than the president’s budget request.

The bill provides $24.3 billion for the Justice Department, $1.5 billion more than the 2007 level and $2.1 billion more than the president’s budget request. Lawmakers also reduced agency information technology programs by $10 million. “The programs have been poorly managed and have numerous cost overruns,” the bill states.

NASA would receive $17.5 billion, $1.2 billion more than the 2007 level and $150 million more than the president requested.

The National Science Foundation would receive $6.6 billion, $636 million more than its 2007 budget and $124 million more than the president’s budget request.

ENERGY AND WATER

Senate: The full committee passed it June 28.
House:  The full committee passed it June 6.
Highlights: In its current form, House lawmakers allocated $31.6 billion to agencies, $1 billion more than the president’s request and the fiscal 2007 budget.

The Energy Department would receive $25.2 billion, $1.2 billion more than the 2007 level and $480 million more than the president’s request.

The Army Corps of Engineers would get $5.6 billion, $246 million more than its 2007 budget and $713.4 million above the president’s request.

The Senate allocated $32.3 billion for the bill’s agencies, which is $1.8 billion more than President Bush requested and nearly $2 billion more than the 2007 level.

Lawmakers would give the Army Corps of Engineers more than $5.4 billion, which is $109 million more than its 2007 budget and $577 million more than the president requested.

The Senate, which was more generous than the House toward the Energy Department, allocated more than $33 billion for DOE programs.

DEFENSE
House: The subcommittee is expected to mark up bill in mid-July.
Senate: The subcommittee has no definite date to mark up its version of the bill.
Highlights: The Senate subcommittee has held 13 hearings and heard from an assortment of high-ranking military officials.
The House subcommittee has held about 17 hearings on DOD’s budget since February.

FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT

House: The House passed the bill on June 28.
Senate: The House bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee.
Highlights: The House allocated $21.4 billion in discretionary spending for the agencies in the bill. The Treasury Department would receive $18.7 million for development and acquisition of IT hardware and software and services, excluding Internal Revenue Service operations and modernization. Lawmakers provided $75 million for IRS IT support.

Although the bill allocates $282.1 million for IRS business systems modernization, the IRS must get congressional approval before spending the money. Lawmakers want assurance that projects have undergone a software investment review.

The House gave the General Services Administration’s Office of Government-wide Policy $45 million for government-wide policy, operations and IT management.

The Office of Inspector General would receive a $6 million increase to $47.4 million because it has taken on more responsibilities. House lawmakers included language in the bill’s report about “ongoing and increasing evidence that the General Services Administration is interfering with the operations and management of the Office of Inspector General, which threatens the autonomy of the office.”

The bill maintains limits on e-government funding that have existed for the past several years. It provides $3 million for the E-Government Fund to support inter-agency projects, the same amount as last year and $2 million less than the president’s request. Under the bill’s provisions, no funds may be spent on OMB’s e-government initiatives without congressional approval. 

In the House report, lawmakers said they continue to be concerned about OMB using the e-government initiative to force its priorities on agencies.

The bill also limits competitive sourcing under OMB’s Circular A-76.
The Office of Personnel Management’s $101.8 million general fund includes $6 million for its Enterprise Human Resources Integration project, $1.3 million for the Human Resources Line of Business and $340,000 for its E-Payroll project.

The National Archives and Records Administration will receive $58 million for the development of electronic records archives.  Multiyear funds require a submission of plans to Congress.  

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES
House: The House passed it June 15.
Senate: The Appropriations Committee approved it June 18.
Highlights: The House’s version includes $64.7 billion in discretionary spending, which is $4 billion more than the president requested and almost $12 billion more than 2007 funding levels.
The House would increase spending to expand health care. It would be the largest increase in veterans’ health care in the Veterans Affairs Department’s  77-year history.

IT appropriations is $1.9 billion, $645 million more than in 2007 and matching the president’s budget request. The money would help improve electronic   recordkeeping to ensure that medical information follows patients as they move from DOD’s health system to VA’s. Lawmakers targeted $39.7 million for IT for claims processing, the same amount as the Senate’s version.

VA must submit IT spending plans to Congress for approval before spending or transferring funds from other accounts to support IT reorganization under the department’s chief information officer.
The IG would receive $76.5 million. The spending bill includes $1.1 million for IT systems unique to the IG’s office and to support oversight of transitional health care for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the Senate report, lawmakers said they were concerned about VA’s ability to process claims in a timely manner. In 2007, lawmakers provided an additional $60.7 million, and for 2008, an additional $130.7 million more than the president’s request. Lawmakers asked VA to make it a priority to integrate technology to streamline the benefits claims process.

TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

House: The subcommittee marked up the bill June 11. The full committee will mark it up in July.
Senate: The subcommittee has not marked up its bill yet.
Highlights: The House subcommittee allocated $50.7 billion for discretionary spending. Many programs were funded the same as last year or decreased because of funding constraints, the subcommittee said in a release.

DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND EDUCATION
House: The Appropriations Subcommittee passed the bill June 7.
Senate: The Appropriations Committee approved its bill June 21.
Highlights: The House proposed $151.6 billion for fiscal 2008, which is $6.9 billion more than it appropriated in 2007.

The Labor Department would receive $11.9 billion, an increase of $209.2 million. The Health and Human Services Department would receive $68.2 billion, an increase of $4.1 billion. The Education Department would get $61.7 billion, a $4.2 billion increase.

In the Senate’s bill, Labor would get $22 million is for IT, architecture, infrastructure, equipment, software and related needs.

INTERIOR AND THE ENVIRONMENT APPROPRIATIONS

House: The House passed the bill June 27.
Senate: The Appropriations Committee approved it June 21.
The House version sets the fiscal 2008 spending mark at $27.6 billion, almost $2 billion more than the president’s request and more than a $1 billion increase compared with the 2007 funding level.

A provision in the bill lets the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management use refunds or rebates from IT vendors to offset procurement costs. A new stipulation in the bill also lets the secretary transfer the titles of computer equipment to states and tribes. The Senate’s version contains the same provision.

The Senate’s version sets the spending mark at $27.2 billion, which is more than the president’s request of $25.7 billion and this year’s $26.4 billion spending level. 

The committee allocated $7.8 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency, $500 million more than the president requested and $48 million more than it appropriated in 2007.

STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS AND RELATED PROGRAMS
House: The House passed it June 22
Senate: The Appropriations Committee approved its version of the House bill June 28.
Highlights: Both the House and Senate committees’ versions call for an increase in spending of almost $3 billion for a total of about $34.2 billion, a jump of almost 10 percent from 2007 but $700 million less than the president requested.
The Senate allocated $10.7 billion in discretionary spending for the State Department.

The House version called for $87 million to remain available until expended for overseas construction and related costs, information technology and capital investments. The committee report notes that the amount is $39 million less than the president requested. More than $12 million of the money will go toward IT, which is half of what was requested.   

Lawmakers said they expected that more than $243 million in expedited passport fees would be used to support a $304 million IT modernization program in 2008.

Ben Bain, Wade-Hahn Chan, Jason Miller, Mary Mosquera, Sebastian Sprenger and Matthew Weigelt contributed to this story. 

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