IT request not finalized for Defense

Although White House budget documents officially released today say the Defense Department will request $27.4 billion for information technology in fiscal 2005, the final number won't be released until March at the earliest, according to DOD spokespeople.

The Government Printing Office published a list of 2005 IT budget requests that included $9.9 billion for various Defense agencies, followed by $6.3 billion for the Air Force, $5.7 billion for the Navy and $5.3 billion for the Army. But the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration/Chief Information Officer, which compiles DOD's IT budget, continues to update numbers and recommended not relying too heavily on the General Printing Office figures, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ken McClellan, a DOD spokesman.

The discrepancy on the fiscal 2005 IT budget request occurred despite calls from Congress during fiscal 2004 budget deliberations for DOD officials to do a better job of accounting for IT spending.

A senior DOD budget official said Jan. 30 that he did not know the figure for total IT spending. A spokeswoman for the agency said the figure would not be ready until early March. According GPO's publication, details for Defense IT expenditures may not be available until April.

Officials requested $401.7 billion in overall Defense spending for fiscal 2005, an increase from the $380 billion in fiscal 2004. Last year's budget included — and highlighted — a $24 billion spending request for IT.

But Congress squabbled over Defense officials' interpretation of IT funding. Lawmakers wanted to increase warfighting IT spending because of the war on terrorism, but decrease business IT expenditures due to mismanagement and rising costs in updating the department's financial systems.

For fiscal 2004, the House slashed DOD's IT funds by $2 billion, but the Senate increased them by $2 million. Lawmakers agreed to $320 million in cuts.

Retiring DOD CIO John Stenbit vowed last September that starting in 2005, the department would break the IT budget into two categories: business and warfighting. He said discussions last year with Congress and Office of Management and Budget officials convinced him the military must change the way it reports IT spending.

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