Energy asks for IT budget spike

The Bush administration's fiscal 2006 budget request would increase the Energy Department's information technology budget almost 10 percent to pay for an e-government initiative and improved cybersecurity, among other things, but supercomputing efforts would get less money.

President Bush's proposed 2006 budget for the Energy Department budget largely ignores supercomputing this year. The cut in supercomputer funding "has to do with the overall debt reduction," DOE National Nuclear Security Administration spokeswoman Kim Krueger said.

The Bush administration has requested a 9.9 percent increase in Energy's IT spending, from $2.63 billion in fiscal 2005 to $2.89 billion in fiscal 2006, largely to pay for an e-government line of business that, although governmentwide, would be led by Energy.

And the chief information officer's budget surged 12.1 percent, up to $106.2 million, "in the interest of improving, enhancing and strengthening both DOE cybersecurity and current IT infrastructure," DOE spokesman Mike Waldron said.

Last year, the NNSA and the Office of Science invested millions of dollars in high-end computing and simulation. But the 2006 proposal would reduce the NNSA's Advanced Simulation and Computing Program to $660.8 million, down more than 5 percent from $696.7 million in fiscal 2005. The Office of Science's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program would lose more than 12 percent, from $233 million in fiscal 2005 to $207 million.

In November, by a voice vote, the House passed the Energy Department High-End Computing Revitalization Act, which would establish a research and development program within DOE to develop new computing capabilities. Researchers and engineers from academia, government and industry will be granted access on a competitive, peer-reviewed basis. The bill authorizes $50 million for fiscal 2005, $55 million for fiscal 2006 and $60 million for fiscal 2007.

The latest list of the world's fastest supercomputers confirmed a DOE machine's place at the top.

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