Energy IT budget stays flat

Funding for information technology programs at the Energy Department remains essentially flat in the Bush administration's fiscal 2004 budget proposal.

Overall, the administration is asking Congress for $23.4 billion for the department—a $1.3 billion increase over fiscal 2003. The plan includes $2.508 billion for IT spending—$21 million less than last year's request.

"Our '04 budget will allow us to move forward aggressively toward our energy objectives at the same time that we continue to strengthen our defense programs, expand our nonproliferation efforts, accelerate our environmental cleanup programs and increase our investment in the promise of scientific research," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in a Feb. 3 speech.

The largest payout for IT goes to the department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), with $328.6 million—a $30.5 million decrease from the fiscal 2003 request—for services, including network maintenance and operations. Money to protect NNSA's networks, meanwhile, rose nearly 3 percent to $64.2 million.

Lesser allocations are more common in Energy's proposal, which lists 806 projects or "a whole lot of smaller programs," as Ray Bjorklund, vice president of market intelligence at Federal Sources Inc., put it.

The request includes $1.9 million for a data warehouse that will form the core of the department's Integrated Management Navigation System, or I-Manage.

I-Manage replaces an accounting system known as the Phoenix Project with a larger system that cuts across disciplines, consolidating such tasks as human resources, travel, payroll, budget and procurement.

The proposal provides $12.2 million—a $7.4 million increase—for Energy's enterprise architecture, and capital planning and investment control programs to address deficiencies in the department's IT management practices.

Last fall, Energy awarded a contract to build the world's two largest supercomputers to support activities for a safe, secure and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile. The request targets $140 million—a $38 million boost—to that effort.

Energy officials were unavailable for comment.

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