DOT requests 5 percent IT hike

President Bush would increase information technology spending in the Transportation Department by almost 5 percent for the next fiscal year.

The Bush administration's proposed 2006 budget includes $2.621 billion in IT spending for DOT. That would be 4.9 percent more than the $2.498 billion approved for fiscal 2005.

Rail safety got the biggest IT boost, in percentage terms. The budget included an extra $14 million for the National Differential Global Positioning System, bringing fiscal year 2006 spending up to $20 million, more than doubling its budget for the current fiscal year. The system, a broadcast station network in the continental United States, relays Global Positioning System coordinates to track the location and speed of trains on crowded tracks.

Intelligent transportation systems would also get more money -- $256 million, up from $232 million last year. Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) officials are pushing for a national automobile tracking system that would use a variety of technologies to gather road information and disseminate the data to drivers. The system, which ITSA members call the Integrated Network of Transportation Information, would gather information from sensors, radio, GPS devices and the 511 traffic information phone system to report highway problems. It would then send the information in a variety of ways, such as via wireless phones and pagers.

Bush also wants a slight increase for the Federal Aviation Administration, though exact numbers were not immediately available. Last year, the FAA's Telecommunications Infrastructure program, a 15-year effort to create a single telecom network, increased by about $71 million, to $174.3 million, for fiscal 2005.

Programs for the agency's chief information officer would rise by 11 percent to $11.9 million, from $10.7 million in fiscal year 2005.

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