Budget keys on national security

President Bush released a budget request today that increased spending on defense and homeland security while tightening the belt in other areas.

Except for programs related to homeland security and defense, the $2.4 trillion fiscal 2005 budget request increases spending less than 1 percent. Defense spending is increased by 7 percent, and homeland security funds rose by nearly 10 percent, according to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten. The aim is to focus the money on the administration's top priorities, such as the war on terrorism, in an effort to reduce the federal deficit in half over the next five years.

"We think we're setting a responsible path here," Bolten said at a briefing on the budget. "This budget does robustly support the priorities of the President.... In other parts of the budget, there will have to be belt tightening."

Similarly, the information technology spending saw its smallest increase in recent years. The fiscal 2005 IT request is $59.8 billion, up just 1 percent from $59.1 billion in fiscal 2004. Several agencies saw only minimal increases in IT spending while a handful, such as the Agriculture and Treasury departments, saw cuts.

The budget request includes recommendations to stop funding 65 major programs while cutting back 63 programs, Bolten said. In some cases, these programs were found to have achieved their missions while others were duplicative to other programs or found to be not showing results, he said. The Program Assessment Rating Tool, a piece of the President's Management Agenda that rates program effectiveness, assisted the administration in examining 40 percent of federal programs.

"This president has focused consistently on results," Bolten said. "The budget is focused on results."

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