Money flowing into Homeland

Congress handed the new Homeland Security Department $125 million this week for start-up costs — with every penny coming from individual agency budgets — and lawmakers asked for more details on how the new agency will spend the money and develop information technology.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. "Bill" Young (R-Fla.) approved the money transfer, but asked the Office of Management and Budget for a more precise accounting by Feb. 10 of how the funds would be spent.

"We need to give the new department the resources it needs to be effective, but Congress and my committee have a constitutional responsibility to make sure the taxpayers' dollars are well spent," Young said in a letter dated Jan. 7.

The plan calls for $12.9 million to be earmarked for IT, telecommunications and wide-area network communications. But the Appropriations Committee wants more details about how the new department plans to develop the information architecture and make sure that IT is interoperable among the 22 agencies that make up the Homeland Security Department.

Young also said the administration has not outlined how much would be spent on e-mail and Web site operations or IT security and management.

OMB wants $20 million for information analysis and infrastructure protection and $10 million for science and technology, but Young said these costs do not appear to be related to the department's start-up.

The initial funding is coming from the individual agencies, including $32 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; $30 million from the Immigration and Naturalization Service; $25 million from the Transportation Security Administration; $4.5 million from the Secret Service and $3.5 million from the Coast Guard.

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