DOJ asks for IT boost

President Bush's proposed $20.3 billion discretionary spending authority request for the Justice Department in the fiscal 2006 budget proposal includes a 20 percent increase for information technology spending over the amount Congress approved in fiscal 2005. The overall Justice IT fiscal 2006 budget request is $2.7 billion.

Justice officials plan on spending $181 million in appropriated money on a centrally controlled information sharing technology fund under the control of the department's chief information officer. That would be a significant increase from the $25 million that Vance Hitch, the department's CIO, has authority to spend this fiscal year.

Included in the centrally funded pot are plans to spend $9.1 million on a litigation case management core solution. The effort is part of the case management line of business, one of five such initiatives the Office of Management and Budget began in March 2004. The litigation case management system is a parallel project to the Justice-led effort to create a federal investigative case management system architecture that will replace the FBI's ailing Virtual Case File program.

Other major Justice technology projects include $132.9 million for the department's unified financial management system, a project to allow real-time access to financial information and program performance reports while ensuring internal controls and security. The requested amount is also considerably more than the $82.4 million Justice officials received to spend in fiscal 2005.

This is also the year Justice officials hope to implement the Integrated Wireless Network, designed to serve 80,000 law enforcement users at 2,500 sites nationwide. According to the administration's fiscal 2006 proposal, funding for the wireless network would climb to $128.6 million, about $30 million than approved for the current year. However, it would be less than the $150.6 million Congress enacted in fiscal 2004.

The FBI-led terrorist screening center, which is supposed to consolidate databases of known terrorists but has experienced a series of setbacks, would receive a 600 percent increase, up to $175.8 million from $25.2 million enacted in fiscal 2005.

Funding for the FBI's Computer Analysis and Response Teams, which support cyber crime investigations nationwide, would decrease by $16.3 million.

Among the Justice programs slated for elimination by the Bush administration are the Community Oriented Policing Services Law Enforcement Technology grants. Congress approved $137.6 million in fiscal 2005 for mostly small and midsized cities nationwide, although President Bush did not request it.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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