Defense bill cuts IT funds by $200 million

The Defense Department's information technology operation and maintenance budget will decrease by $200 million for fiscal 2004 under the Defense Appropriations Act currently being considered by Congress.

"The total amount appropriated in Title II (Operations and Maintenance) is hereby reduced by $200 million to reduce cost growth in information technology," the conference committee report said.

A House and Senate conference committee announced Sept. 18 a $368.2 billion DOD Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2004, a $3.8 billion increase from fiscal 2003. Although the Senate has yet to vote on the bill, the measure passed the House Sept. 24 by a 407 to 15 margin, with 15 members not voting.

That vote included the $200 million IT reductions, including:

* Army: $40 million.

* Navy: $60 million.

* Air Force: $60 million.

* Departmentwide: $40 million

Defense research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) realized a spending spike to $65.2 billion, a $7 billion increase from fiscal 2003.

While the breakdowns were not immediately available by program, the committee disbursed RDT&E funding to include:

* Army: $10.3 billion

* Navy: $15.1 billion

* Air Force: $20.5 billion

* Departmentwide: $18.9 billion

Operational Test and Evaluation, which includes joint testing among the services, received $305 million.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program was effectively killed for at least the next fiscal year. The report states that no money can be designated for TIA, an initiative to help investigate potential terrorists by collecting personal information, or any similar program.

"None of the funds provided for processing, analysis, and collaboration tools for counterterrorism foreign intelligence shall be available for deployment or implementation" in TIA, the report states. It made exceptions for lawful military operations outside the country or foreign intelligence activities conducted overseas or against non-U.S. citizens.

The cut in IT spending was not as harsh as it could have been. The House in July sought a $321 million reduction, saying DOD had little accountability how it spent IT dollars.

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