Commerce IT gets small boost

Commerce Department fiscal 2006 budget

Commerce Department officials are requesting $85 million more for the information technology budget, according to President Bush's proposed 2006 budget.

According to the spending plan, the department would get about $1.55 billion for its IT budget, which is about 5.8 percent more than the current $1.46 billion budget. Overall, the department's proposed $9.4 billion budget for 2006 is about 48 percent more than the current fiscal year's budget.

Census Bureau officials are requesting about $897 million, an increase of $133 million from this year's approximately $765 million budget, to improve the quality and collection of data. They are preparing for the 2010 census through early testing and modernizing the geographic information database, among other projects.

About $94 million in new funds is earmarked for developing an IT architecture enabling the bureau to conduct a re-engineered short form for the Decennial Census. About $80 million is allocated for continued modernization of the Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would get about $3.6 billion according to the proposed budget, representing a decrease of nearly 9 percent compared with this year's estimated appropriated level.

However, NOAA officials have an ambitious agenda, including:

* $95 million in net increases to support emerging requirements for their role in building an integrated Earth-observing system, including maintaining the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and continued development of the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite.

* $9.5 million to help expand the U.S. Tsunami Warning Network, which will expand the six-buoy network to 32 buoys and upgrade 20 seismometers, among other things.

* $5.6 million for the NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio, including installing 17 new transmitter stations and refurbishing more than 400 transmitter stations installed in the early 1970s

The overall proposed budget of Commerce's Technology Administration would see a decrease, including cuts for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the undersecretary's office. NIST's overall proposed budget would decrease by 24 percent, from $699 million to $532 million.

The agency's Advanced Technology Program is on the chopping block, although it would get funds to enhance research capabilities in manufacturing, and particularly nanotechnology, and expand public safety and security programs.

"This budget includes significant boosts for [the Technology Administration's] highest priority research efforts while still supporting the president's commitment to responsible spending restraint," said Phillip Bond, Commerce's undersecretary for technology, in a press release. "It enables us to continue to act as strong advocates for innovation and industrial competitiveness, both inside and outside the government, and provide our nation with a reliable foundation for the technology infrastructure."

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees federal spectrum management, would get a 39 percent cut, from $38.7 million to $23.5 million, in its overall budget.


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