The budget breakdown: win, lose or draw
William S. Cohen the new secretary of Defense - who marked his last year in the Senate with the passage of information technology procurement reform legislation - made clear his commitment to IT in his Feb. 6 press briefing on the 1998 Pentagon budget. Cohen said DOD needs to sustain improvements in existing systems as well as support "leap-ahead systems" so that U.S. armed forces can "maintain the substantial margin of superiority we currently have and to expand battlefield situational awareness eventually into battlefield knowledge."
Language in the president's budget allocates a total of $1.4 billion dollars for DOD IT capital purchases in 1998. But because Pentagon IT programs are funded from two sources - procurement accounts and operations and maintenance accounts - those capital purchases can be difficult to identify.The detailed Pentagon budget does indicate the extent of the 1998 investment in IT through a high-level breakout of spending on information services through working capital funds. Defensewide information services spending - which covers the Defense Information Systems Agency the Defense Logistics Agency the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Joint Logistics Systems Center - will decline slightly in 1998 to $3.259 billion from $3.278 billion in 1997.
Army information services spending will edge up to $165 million in 1998 from $146 million in 1997 Navy obligations will decline from $246 million to $207 million while Air Force Working Capital Funds for information services will jump to $321 million in 1998 from $270 million in 1997.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration emerged as a significant beneficiary of the administration's new approach to budgeting for capital asset acquisitions through full multiple-year funding for "core/priority missions" of federal agencies. The agency's budget includes $503 million in 1998 and $2.33 billion in advance appropriations for key weather programs that have significant computer and communications components. These programs which the administration plans to fund through a Capital Assets Acquisition Account include Next-Generation Weather Radar the Automated Surface Observing System the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System Central Computer Facility upgrades and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites.
NOAA's detailed budget plan also outlined planned funding for these projects primarily for the weather satellites of $1.4 billion from 2003 through 2010. NOAA said this advance funding will make a real difference for the agency. "One of the big questions is Will satellites eat our lunch because they are fixed costs that vary over the years " said James Baker undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology asked for $275.6 million for its Advanced Technology Program (ATP) which provides competitive grants to high-risk technology programs and has been a favorite target of Republicans. The amount represents an increase of $50 million over fiscal 1997 funds.
The Census Bureau requested $357 million in fiscal 1998 - an increase of $86 million - to gear up for the Year 2000 decennial census. This funding covers a dress rehearsal in 1998 to test new systems and technologies that will make the census more efficient. This includes maintenance and upgrades to the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing database and the Master Address file. These two systems help the agency meet its goal of determining the location of every business establishment farm and residence in the United States and its territories - key components of census information and important aids in conducting the decennial head count.
The Federal Aviation Administration also emerged as a big winner in the multiple-year funding sweepstakes with a key reservation: Advance appropriations plans could change if financial reform legislation converts the agency to user-fee financing.
The FAA asked for $679 million in 1998 an additional $2.1 billion in funding from 1999 to 2003 and additional requests through 2005 for 13 projects to improve and modernize the nation's air traffic control communications and aviation weather information systems.
The 1998 budget line includes $108 million - up sharply from $64 million in 1997 - for the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) for low to medium terminal radar approach control facilities $153 million to continue procurement of the Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS) initial operating system - an increase of $58 million $203 million for the display system replacement which will upgrade controller workstations and $51 million for the Voice Switching and Control System an integrated air/ground voice communications system.
The Federal Highway Administration continues to back the application of IT to the most ubiquitous method of transportation through its ongoing Intelligent Transportation Systems programs. FHA asked for $250 million in fiscal 1998 for ITS programs - an increase of $13 million from 1997. The ITS funding according to language in the president's budget covers projects such as intelligent cruise control automated toll collection and automated highways.
Although top Treasury officials are still reviewing plans to overhaul the Internal Revenue Service's failed Tax Systems Modernization program the administration requested $500 million for unspecified and undefined new systems for fiscal 1999 and beyond. This slightly tops the amount the IRS received from Congress for TSM during the current fiscal year. According to John Koskinen deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget "we have a pretty good idea they are going to need to spend fairly significant funds and need to block those funds out in advance."
The IRS would still spend $130.9 million next year to continue to develop some systems started under TSM out of a $1.3 billion IT budget although none of the funds have been allocated to specific projects according to agency budget documents. Out of $88 million earmarked for new programs the IRS has set aside $39 million for Year 2000 software fixes and $35 million for replacement of the Distributed Input System/Remittance Processing System an obsolete system used to enter data from tax returns and record payments. In all Treasury bureaus would spend more than $2 billion on IT including $229 million for centralized services through its Working Capital Fund. The fund provides agency telecommunications and administrative services on a fee-for-service basis to Treasury bureaus and other agencies.
Among other Treasury programs:
* The Customs Service would spend $15 million for its ongoing Automated Commercial Environment project through which the agency is revamping how it monitors imports and exports. In addition Customs would spend $11.5 million on a joint project with the Immigration and Naturalization Service that would speed passage for travelers crossing the Canadian and Mexican borders.
* The Secret Service would spend $6.1 million to plan a new nationwide wireless communications network that would be used by federal state and local law enforcement officials.
* The department would invest $4.4 million for an integrated human resources system that would be shared by its 14 bureaus. The funding would continue a pilot project launched last year by the IRS and Customs which employ most Treasury workers.
Fighting crime has been a popular policy to fund with Congress pumping hundreds of millions of dollars more into Justice Department IT during Clinton's first term. Clinton is asking Congress to continue that pace in fiscal 1998.
The White House wants to increase DOJ's IT budget about 3 percent to more than $1.1 billion according to rough estimates. Among DOJ's plans for fiscal 1998 is the development of a departmentwide architecture as required by the Clinger-Cohen Act and the creation of a consolidated network estimated to cost $200 million. DOJ officials also will begin to develop the Global Criminal Information Network a computer system that would allow all levels of governments worldwide to share information the system was cited in Vice President Al Gore's Access America report released last week.
"Nothing really stands out here " said Mark Boster deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management. "But it's a really solid IT budget."
Fighting illegal immigration is also a popular political issue to pursue and the Clinton administration again boosted the Immigration and Naturalization Service's overall budget by double digits. Within the agency's $3.7 billion budget - a 13 percent increase from fiscal 1997 - is a request for a $43 million boost in INS' $374 million IT budget.
Clinton wants the money used for a backup system and portable computers for the INS' biometric identification system called Ident which uses fingerprints to identify illegal immigrants and their patterns of illegally crossing the border. The extra funds also will go toward technology for joint INS/Customs Service programs such as license plate readers and automated ports of entry.
NASA's total IT budget request for fiscal 1998 totaled $1.39 billion - only marginally lower than 1997's $1.45 billion budget. Support services will grab the biggest slice of NASA's IT pie with 16 percent allocated to equipment purchases and the remainder for software supplies and telecommunications services.
Funding for key programs includes: $405 million in the human space exploration line $225 million for space communications $238 million for the Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) $230 million for institutional support for NASA centers $166 million for aeronautics and space transportation technology and $102 million for space science.
Funding in 1998 for the Earth Observing System (EOS) Data and Information System will decrease by about $10 million compared with fiscal 1997. Robert Price associate director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for MTPE said NASA has already put in place the foundation of the data information system meaning less funding is required as the EOS project moves into its operations phase in 1998. The operations data retrieval and storage program within MTPE received $24 million less in the 1998 request with $10 million representing lower expenditures in high-performance computing and $14 million due to lower operating costs associated with aging satellites.
While high-performance computing will receive less funding under MTPE supercomputing expenditures within the aeronautics and space transportation program will double in fiscal 1998 jumping from $23 million to $45 million.
National Science Foundation
Funding for the core IT division in the National Science Foundation jumped 7.6 percent in 1998 outpacing the 3 percent overall growth in the agency's budget.
The 1998 budget request for the foundation's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate hit $294.17 million - up from $273.35 million in 1997. Each element of that budget - with the exception of advanced scientific computing which remained unchanged at $79 million - would receive more funding in the 1998 budget.
The information robotics and intelligent systems program received the largest increase within the program jumping 13 percent to $39 million. Cross-discipline research activities received a 12 percent boost to $35 million. The networking and communications research and infrastructure program request for $62 million in 1998 represents an increase of 11 percent over 1997.
The computer and computation research and microelectronic processing divisions received more modest increases (about 8 percent each) in the 1998 budget. Two new initiatives accounted for most of the IT portion of the foundation's total budget increase. The Multidisciplinary Approaches to Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI) project received an increase of $48 million. According to NSF director Neal Lane KDI is perhaps the "most encompassing venture NSF has ever pursued." This project which cuts across all fields of research in information communications computing and networking is designed for high technological and economic payback. It builds on an existing $355 million base of KDI-related projects.
The foundation also received $10 million of the $100 million allocated across multiple agencies to help develop the Next-Generation Internet research network which will be capable of achieving speeds 100 to 1 000 times faster than today's Internet.
DOE's largest IT program took a strong hit in the 1998 budget. Program managers of the $900 million Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) requested about $225 million for 1998 to fund the high-performance computing program which is designed to boost computing powers 1 000 times said ASCI program leader David Nowak. However the president's request allocated $204 million for the program - $53 million more than 1997 funding but 10 percent below what the agency requested.
The reduction Nowak said would delay some of the milestones for the project. In December the ASCI initiative deployed a supercomputer that achieved processing speeds three times faster than the previous supercomputer record holder. ASCI is scheduled to be completed in 2004. "It's clearly going to delay the milestones " Nowak said. "How we would rearrange the program we have not worked that out. It's not clear what changes we would make."
The 1998 budget request for computational and technology research at DOE is $175 million - an increase of $22 million. This results from $35 million plus for research in support of the president's Next-Generation Internet Initiative. This increase was partially offset by $8 million in reductions in laboratory technology research and $4 million in reductions in the advanced energy projects program.
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA plans to spend more than $250 million on its information systems in 1998 including $96 million for central data processing and telecommunications services through its National Data Processing Division in Research Triangle Park N.C. The agency would devote $34.6 million to its Executive Steering Committee program an EPA-wide project to integrate its databases and applications.
*The Department of Health and Human Services asked for $89 million for the Medicare Transaction System up from $75 million in fiscal 1997. The system streamlines claims processing eligibility and managed care information systems. HHS also asked for $30 million to establish a National Directory of New Hires which would help locate noncustodial parents who leave their home state to avoid paying child support.
*The State Department asked for $64.6 million - $24.6 million more than fiscal 1997 - for its capital investment fund. State uses this fund to acquire and maintain computer systems for the department. It also requested $209 million for its worldwide information management activities - a decrease of $65 million. This includes support for telecommunications word processing and information security among others.
*While the overall budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs increased its proposed IT budget for 1998 slipped from $882 million in the current fiscal year to a proposed $874 million in the coming fiscal year. In addition the VA allocated $450 million for its Clinical Workstation Information System which allows workers at VA hospitals and clinics to access complete medical and payment records of patients vs. $456 million in 1997.
*The Library of Congress proposed an IT budget of $34.9 million in 1998 - up from $28.7 million in 1997. A good chunk of the proposed increase would go toward acquiring an overall computer system that would integrate key functions - such as collections development acquisitions inventory control serials management cataloging binding preservation and circulation - into one system allowing for more efficient tracking and management of library resources.
*The National Archives and Records Administration has requested $2 million to upgrade its own records management systems particularly to accommodate electronic records. According to agency budget documents the funds would pay to begin two new projects. One project calls for a "practical affordable automated system" that NARA would use to track information about federal records collected on paper today. The funds would also be used to develop a new strategy for agencies to manage electronic records especially geographic data architectural and engineering drawings electronic mail scientific data and multimedia records.
*In trying to trim its staff from 10 500 today to 7 500 by fiscal 2000 the Department of Housing and Urban Development will have to rely heavily on the automation and efficiency that comes with investments in IT with the IT budget slated to jump from $43 million in 1997 to $66 million in 1998. A large chunk of the 1998 funds $33.5 million will go for management information systems integrated into a new core financial system.