Justice budgets for info sharing

The fiscal 2005 budget request for the Justice Department includes a 6 percent boost for information technology programs mostly aimed at supporting the fight against terrorism.

The $22.1 billion overall budget represents $2.2 billion for IT, up 6 percent from fiscal 2004. Major programs to see an increase include the integrated fingerprint system, consolidated infrastructure initiative and comprehensive terrorist watch list.

One of the largest increases is requested for a project that would merge the former Immigration and Naturalization Service's IDENT fingerprinting system and the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The Bush administration has requested $34 million for the initiative, up from $5.1 million. Justice's inspector general has criticized the effort to merge the two systems, saying it has fallen behind schedule and has no completion date.

The budget also includes $29 million for the Terrorist Screening Center, which would combine a dozen terrorist watch lists into a single database. The administration also asked for $35.5 million for the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which would enable law enforcement and homeland security officials to share terrorist information. The request also includes $38 million to improve the FBI's intelligence capability, including $13.4 million for the creation of an Office of Intelligence to coordinate intelligence collection efforts at the FBI.

The administration also requested funding increases for the following FBI initiatives:

* $20.1 million for the National Crime Information Center, an online service for sharing criminal information among law enforcement agencies. This is only a slight increase from fiscal 2004 funding.

* $2.4 million for operation and maintenance of the Automated Case Support system, which consists of investigative case management, electronic case files and a universal index.

* $30.6 million for the Special Technologies and Applications Section to originate advanced computer technical analysis and electronic data products for the entire FBI.

* $97.1 million for the operation and maintenance of the Trilogy network.

Other highlights in Justice spending include:

* $126.7 million for the departmentwide unified financial management system, up from $73.9 million in fiscal 2004.

* $861 million for the consolidated infrastructure, a project that includes office automation, security, telecommunications and infrastructure integration. This is a slight increase from fiscal 2004 funding.

* $102 million for an integrated wireless network to provide secure communications to officials in the Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security departments.

* $9.6 million — up from $4.1 million — for the Drug Enforcement Administration's Concorde project, an IT architecture to perform all re-engineered business processes.

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