Little change in Treasury budget

Treasury's HR Connect

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The fiscal 2004 budget contains few changes in the Treasury Department's information technology plans or funding, with the biggest difference coming from programs moving to other agencies because of the homeland security restructuring.

Several bureaus and offices are moving or changing as part of the Bush administration's consolidation of homeland security-related law enforcement functions in the Homeland Security Department and the Justice Department.

The only IT program at Treasury to be affected by the consolidation is the Integrated Treasury Network. This wireless communication program will move to Justice, along with its allotted $31.9 million for fiscal 2004.

At the departmental level, the only other significant change in the IT request is an increase of $200,000 to enhance and expand Treasury's Web-based HR Connect human resources management system.

However, the spending plan for the Internal Revenue Service does include a major change. The budget proposes to restore $49 million that the administration shifted in January from the agency's modernization program to help start another Treasury program. Last week, the IRS Oversight Board criticized the shift of fiscal 2003 funding, saying it would hurt the agency's management functions.

However, a senior Treasury budget official said at a briefing today that the shift will not force the IRS to hold back any modernization work in the current fiscal year, and restoring the funding in fiscal 2004 will simply allow the agency to move forward as planned. "It is consistent with the spending activity that's under way," the official said.

In fact, the modernization efforts so far at the IRS have freed up more than $40 million, which the administration is allowing the agency to reinvest. More than $32 million of that will go toward expanding the agency's virtual private network, replacing old hardware, and enhancing internal and external Web services, according to budget documents.

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