IT funding falters at NASA

Information technology took a slight hit in the Bush administration's budget proposal for NASA.

The total request of $15.1 billion for fiscal 2003 includes $2.51 billion for IT spending — about a $47 million decrease.

Funding for human space flight was cut $700 million to $6.13 billion, including space communications and data systems being cut by more than one-fourth. However, funding for science, aeronautics and technology increased $797 million to $8.8 billion.

"The administration has charted a fiscal course for the future that asks NASA to look at the way it does business, identify improvements in management and performance, and continue to build on the agency's core foundation of science and technology research," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in a statement.

Only two of NASA's 14 major projects included in Exhibit 53, which details the agency's IT budget request, received more money than in fiscal 2002.

The proposal includes $118 million for the Integrated Financial Management Program, a $29 million increase, and $19 million for the NASA ADP Consolidation Center, a $1 million increase.

But funding for the rest of NASA's major IT projects stayed the same and, in some cases, dropped. The Earth Observing System Data and Information System, for instance, went from $293 million to $80 million.

The agency got low marks for e-government for failing to adequately justify its IT investments.

Meanwhile, NASA on Feb. 5 released a blueprint to address aviation issues. The blueprint identifies four focus areas, including digital airspace technology, which will provide precise terrain and weather information to pilots and air traffic controllers.

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