DOD bills bolster anti-terrorism spending

As part of the flurry of activity just before the holidays, Congress passed the Defense authorization and appropriations bills, which increased information technology spending for the Defense Department and for civilian agencies involved in homeland defense.

The bills, which included the second emergency spending bill cobbled together after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, specifically address counterterrorism. Ray Bjorklund, a vice president for market research firm Federal Sources Inc., said there is "specific money in there for those activities," although analysts are still tallying what spending is allocated where. "Everybody is looking at this as a basis for homeland defense as well as the normal mission."

The appropriations bill, for example, gives DOD $20 million for the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, which will build a system to simulate the Internet, the nation's tele.communications system and the country's infrastructure to assess how weaknesses can be identified and minimized.

Civilian agencies involved in homeland security or vulnerable to terrorist attacks also received more money. The supplemental spending bill, for example, gives the FBI $56 million for data backup and warehousing and $237 million to speed up its Trilogy program to modernize its IT infrastructure.

"Right now, the FBI has a large number of computers that cannot even send pictures of potential terrorists to other FBI terminals because they do not have the adequate computer capacity," Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) said Dec. 20 on the House floor. "This bill fixes that."

The Internal Revenue Service also received $16 million, of which $13.5 million is for backup systems, in case its systems are compromised.

Among the other DOD provisions:

* Navy Marine Corps Intranet. The final version of the Defense authorization bill did not include a House provision that would have removed the Marine Corps from the Navy's five-year, $6.9 billion effort to outsource its shore-based IT infrastructure.

The bill, however, seeks to put the initiative on an event-driven schedule in which the DOD chief information officer will review the project's progress when NMCI reaches certain milestones.

* DOD CIO. The Defense authorization bill requires that IT projects be registered with the DOD CIO and that the CIO certify that the project is being developed in accordance with the Clinger-Cohen Act.

Former DOD deputy CIO Paul Brubaker called the wording a "frustration provision" that reflects the congressional committee staff's frustration with DOD's lack of progress in meeting the goals of the act. "It sometimes has the unintended consequence of slowing things down," Brubaker said.

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Highlights from the Defense authorization and appropriations bills

* $20 million to the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center.

* $237 million to speed up FBI's Trilogy program.

* Financial management systems must receive certification from the DOD comptroller.

* Marine Corps remains part of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

* DOD must solicit bids for all task orders for services of $100,000 or more from all eligible vendors.

* DOD must get bids from at least three vendors unless it establishes in writing that it was unable to do so.

About the Authors

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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