Appropriations

Senate would trim president's defense IT budget by $500M

illustration dollar sign in vise

The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee approved a bill July 15 that would provide $500 million less for defense IT than President Barack Obama’s budget requested.

A bill summary provided by the subcommittee justified the lower figure -- which it said was 3 percent below the president’s request -- by saying, “trimming IT funding will help prioritize and better target non-cybersecurity IT investments in an era of fiscal constraint.”

(The administration's original fiscal 2015 budget request for DOD IT was $35.3 billion, and updated Exhibit 53 numbers put the figure at $30.3 billion -- levels at which $500 million would represent a roughly 1.5 percent cut. At press time, Senate committee staff had not responded to FCW requests for clarification on how appropriators defined "IT funding" for DOD in their numbers.)

The Senate's Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015 would appropriate about $549 billion for fiscal 2015, nearly the same total requested by Obama for base spending and overseas military operations. The House passed its defense appropriations bill June 20.

The Senate version would allocate R&D money for a variety of defense programs, including $15 million to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for military children from preschool through the 12th grade.

On security clearances, the Senate appropriations bill encourages the secretary of Defense to “consider measures to streamline data sharing for continuous personnel security evaluations and threat analysis,” according to the summary.

The bill also would put $75 million toward the Rapid Innovation Fund, which helps small businesses develop advanced national security technologies.

Speaking with reporters after the markup, Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said he was confident of broader congressional support for the bill.

“I think there’s a sense of a relief. After living through sequestration, I think many of the members [of Congress] have been conditioned to some hard-earned choices, and I think our bill tried to strike a balance” between fiscal restraint and security, he said.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the bill July 17.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is the Pentagon correspondent for FCW, where he covers cybersecurity, defense IT and intelligence issues. Prior to that, he was a reporter and editor for Smart Grid Today, the utility industry's journal of record. He has reported for The Atlantic, The Economist and The Washington Diplomat, among other outlets. He is former chair of the Young Members Committee at the National Press Club. Sean earned his B.A. from Duke University and his M.A. from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University.


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