IT budget request cut for NASA

The administration's request for a 3.5 percent decrease in NASA information technology spending for fiscal 2006 reflects mission requirements that support President Bush's vision of a U.S. space program dedicated to sending human explorers to Mars and building a base on the moon, a NASA spokesman said today.

In the proposed 2006 budget sent to Congress today, the President calls for $1.903 billion for NASA's information technology, about $68 million lower than the $1.971 billion approved for fiscal 2005. If approved, it would be the fourth consecutive year in which NASA has cut IT spending.

Officials expect that information technology budget will be about $2 billion annually for the next few years, said NASA spokesman Brian Dunbar.

"There's no such thing as an overall IT budget request," he said, referring to the way NASA aggregates IT spending. That figure, representing the sum of information technology programs across the agency, varies slightly from year to year. For example, a newer system in early development may have cost more in 2005, contributing to the higher budget.

For fiscal 2005, the IT budget was dominated by the Integrated Information Infrastructure program, which includes office automation, IT infrastructure and telecommunications projects. In the request, $510.9 million was set aside for the wide-reaching program, though that number was down from its fiscal 2004 level of $515.4 million. Officials also spent less on NASA's Integrated Financial Management program: $85.7 million in fiscal 2005, compared to $112.7 million in 2004.

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