Treasury, Justice big spenders

Government Electronics and Information Technology Association

As funding priorities shift to underscore the importance of using technology to fight terrorism, the biggest budget growth is forecast for the Treasury and Justice departments, according to the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's five-year forecast, officially unveiled Oct. 23.

Treasury has launched a new center to track the financial dealings of suspected terrorists, and Justice is in urgent need of cutting-edge technology to help track down those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"Treasury will be playing a key role in strengthening homeland security," said Jennifer Smith, an analyst for Lockheed Martin Corp. "Treasury's course was forever altered after [Sept. 11]."

Overall, total discretionary budgets are expected to grow 3.3 percent each year, but the total federal IT budgets are forecast to grow 5.6 percent annually, according to GEIA.

A big spender will be the Justice Department, where the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service play major roles in dealing with terrorism.

INS has been the "poster child for mismanagement in government," and all issues relating to border control must be fixed, according to Thomas Reinhardt, a business development manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"We've got to figure out how to do this," he said.

Other big spenders include the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for public health. And agencies across government will need better encryption tools, intrusion detection, wireless networks, and Web and videoconferencing tools, the report said.

The Office of Homeland Security is expected to reshape priorities, including technology, and one of the first things that may be seen in government is relaxing the rules for complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, according to Jeanmarie Klitzner, director of business development at Computer Sciences Corp. and civil forecast director for GEIA.

"The civilian government will grow as it looks to develop standardization," she said.

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