Forman explains IT budget increase

Much of the anticipated increase in the Bush administration's federal information technology budget request for fiscal 2004 comes from homeland security needs and better reporting of existing IT expenditures, according to Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget.

In the current fiscal year, the White House identified almost $1.6 billion in other areas of agencies' budgets that were in fact IT expenditures, updating the fiscal 2003 IT budget to $54.2 billion. The fiscal 2004 IT request of $59.1 billion includes an increase of $4.9 billion specifically for homeland security, the war on terrorism and other modernization needs.

The increase comes with a caveat: More than 700 major projects, representing almost $21 billion, are on OMB's at-risk list. This means that they have not provided a thorough business case or have not adequately addressed information security concerns.

The budget also includes a request to increase the spending on information security, bringing the funding to $4.7 billion, up from $4.2 billion this year.

OMB will be watching agencies' actions closely when it comes to information security, Forman said. This year, the letters to agency leaders approving or disapproving agencies' corrective action plans will also go to the president, he said. OMB also will continue to consider cutting back on some of the modernization money to make sure that existing security problems are fixed first, he said.

The administration will continue to push for more efficient use of IT and e-government, particularly through homeland security and information sharing. OMB will continue to emphasize controlling costs through consolidation and integration and use of the Federal Enterprise Architecture.

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