Davis forecasts IT budget boost

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said Dec. 11 that he expected the Bush administration's fiscal 2003 budget request for information technology to increase by at least 10 percent.

Citing the events of Sept. 11 and the vulnerabilities uncovered as a result of them, Davis said he expected the White House to seek significant new funding for IT investments to strengthen America's defenses.

"We're in a wartime situation.... IT is as important as tanks and missiles," said Davis, who made his comments after delivering a speech at a conference sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America. Davis is chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy.

Congress has yet to give final approval to the administration's 2002 budget request, which is expected to include $45 billion for IT spending.

From fiscal 1990 to fiscal 1999, federal spending on IT increased, when adjusted for inflation, between 5 percent and 20 percent a year, according to consulting firm Federal Sources Inc. And Mark Forman, the Bush administration's e-government chief, has questioned whether the government is spending too much money on IT.

Nevertheless, ITAA president Harris Miller said federal CIOs and other technology officials in government are "so strapped" for money that somebody has to find more to fund the projects critical to U.S. homeland security.

"The whole budget process changed on Sept. 11," Miller said.

However, Ray Bjorklund, vice president of consulting services at Federal Sources, said he thinks the administration is still trying to curb government spending.

"That will be a dampening factor on growth," he said.

But the "post 9/11 mood" underscores the government's recognition that it has to have "far improved information sharing and collaboration and networking," he said.

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