House eyes military IT

House lawmakers followed through with their warning of continued scrutiny of the military's information technology spending by proposing a Defense Department IT fiscal 2006 budget that would be less than the $30.1 billion the Bush administration proposed.

The House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee reviewed or marked up the Pentagon's IT budget May 11. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), subcommittee chairman, confirmed the IT reductions in a statement following the session.

"We continue our scrutiny of the department's IT programs, though not as severely in past years," Sexton said. "We have recommended some reductions. After all, we are a nation at war, and our attention and resources should be focused on the war effort."

One committee staff member said today that the committee would make the specific reductions to the DOD IT budget available when it marks up the department’s budget next week.

An official in the DOD chief information officer's office said the committee cut $250 million from the department's $30.1 billion IT request for fiscal 2006.

The official in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration and the Chief Information Officer did not know which IT programs got cut. But the official said a likely target was the Business Management Modernization Program, the department’s update of its business processes and systems.

This marks the third straight year lawmakers proposed cuts to DOD's IT budget. For fiscal 2005, they slashed it by about $500 million after House Armed Services Committee members voted to reduce it by $726 million and Senate Armed Services Committee members voted to cut $200 million. For fiscal 2004, DOD faced IT budget cuts of almost $2 billion, but lawmakers largely rescinded them after conferring on the bill.

In February, DOD officials asked lawmakers for $30.1 billion in their budget proposal for military IT spending for fiscal 2006. The proposal sought $10.7 billion for defense agencies, $7.1 billion for the Air Force, $6.2 billion for the Navy and $6.1 billion for the Army.

The $30.1 billion request for military IT funding for 2006 represents a $2.9 billion increase from the $27.2 billion requested in 2005 and a $1.4 billion increase -- or 4.9 percent -- over the $28.7 billion received last year. Lawmakers want DOD to make better use of its IT funding by consolidating similar business management systems and warfighting command and control systems.


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