Budget commits to immigration systems

Securing the nation's borders and enforcing immigration laws are goals of the new Homeland Security Department, and items in the agency's information technology budget reflect that commitment.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service's inspection and enforcement duties merged into the department, but several systems already under way will continue to be funded.

Overall, the Bush administration is requesting $36.2 billion for the Homeland Security Department, which includes $3.8 billion for IT.

The budget includes $480 million for the continued development of the entry/exit system designed to track visitors entering the United States. About $164 million is requested for the Atlas/Chimera initiative, which is a project to replace INS' aging infrastructure. The plan covers IT support, acquiring services and information sharing among agencies and offices.

In the budget, the new Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, charged with security along the borders, will focus on improving effectiveness and consolidating activities. Of the $6.7 billion sought for this bureau, $119 million is requested to implement programs, including inspection technology, to detect contraband and weapons of mass destruction.

More than $307 million is requested for the Automated Commercial Environment system, which will be built during the next five years and will process cargo inspections and clearance into the United States. Another $11.2 million is requested for the International Trade Data System to modernize the way international trade data is collected and used.

The budget also includes $27.5 million for immigration services modernization.

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