Defense IT spending in balance

The Defense Department will spend nearly as much on information technology as the civilian agencies for the first time since experts can remember, the new IT spending forecast from the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association shows.

DOD spent $17 billion on IT in fiscal 2001 and will spend $21.9 billion in fiscal 2002, said Mary Freeman, market research manager for Verizon Federal and GEIA's budget forecast chairwoman.

Civilian agency spending traditionally has outstripped DOD IT spending. This year, however, the spending is almost equal.

That is, in part, a result of changes in the way DOD reports IT spending in its budget, Freeman said during a meeting with reporters Oct. 9. But DOD spending has also increased in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the resulting war on terrorism.

GEIA officials met with reporters in anticipation of their annual Vision Conference to be held this month in Alexandria, Va.

Some of the changes resulting from the terrorist attacks are not yet known, the GEIA forecast team said. But changes undoubtedly will occur in DOD IT spending.

Although there is new spending in the till, some projects may be put on hold to make way for projects that are focused on antiterrorism matters, experts said. The largest growth is expected in command and control and tactical communications, the forecast found.

Mike Kush, senior systems engineer for Vector Research Inc. and chairman of GEIA's defense agency forecast team, said that the DOD IT market continues to be robust.

However, the balance between readiness and modernization continues to be a problem.

Some early indications are that DOD, having invested in command and control in the past, plans to invest sizable resources into intelligence and security.

Many DOD agencies are in a "wait and see" mode, he said, before they made funding decisions.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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