DOD appropriations progress

Congressional negotiators this week settled on recommending $355.1 billion in new discretionary spending for the Defense Department for fiscal 2003, with a focus on improvements for the military's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) functions.

The conference report, agreed upon Oct. 9 and awaiting approval by the House and Senate, marks an increase of $37.5 billion from the previous year's spending. It includes funding for numerous C4ISR programs, including:

* $251 million, including an addition to the amended budget request of $105 million, for the Army's Future Combat Systems, in which networked information and communications systems aim to provide a competitive edge to soldiers in the field and commanders in the control room.

* $131 million, $26 million more than the budget request, for the procurement of 22 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that use radar, a TV camera and an infrared camera for surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting.

* $129 million for procurement of three Global Hawk UAVs, and $42 million to accelerate development of a Navy Global Hawk variant — the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance.

* $338 million for the Air Force's Multisensor Command and Control Constellation (MC2C) development program, a future "constellation" of air and space capabilities consisting primarily of a multisensor command and control aircraft, space-based systems, and UAVs.

* A 17 percent increase from last year's funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

* Net increases to the president's request for the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP), which had represented the largest one-year increase in intelligence spending in over two decades.

"Good news for us that we will have an appropriations bill," said Cheryl Roby, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for programs and evaluation. "The investments are now there in C4ISR. We convinced our senior leadership that we will not be effective without those investments."

Congress was supposed to approve a fiscal 2003 budget by Oct. 1, so questions remain about whether DOD can spend money without having the Defense authorization bill in place.

DOD officials said that they believe they should be able to spend the money once it is approved, but that will require lawmakers to include a provision enabling the agency to spend the dollars before the funds have been authorized, Roby said.

"Once you got the money, you go ahead and spend it," Roby advised.

DOD, however, is not likely to have an authorization bill any time soon, she said. "Some of our new ideas may have some problem getting — through," Roby said. "We'll work it, though."

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, 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,, 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, 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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