Input: Katrina relief may cut into DHS IT spending

The federal government’s unprecedented spending on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts may lead to cuts in information technology spending by the Homeland Security Department, according to market-research firm Input in a report scheduled for release tomorrow.

Additional money given to the Federal Emergency Management Agency will increase DHS’ budget for fiscal 2006, and the department’s IT budget is likely to increase, too, said Payton Smith, Input’s director of public sector analysis, in a statement.

But congressional concerns about the federal deficit, swollen with spending for the war in Iraq even before Katrina hit, may lead to larger cuts from current and planned IT programs, Smith said.

IT is necessary for DHS to meet its goals of improving procurement and information sharing among its 22 component agencies, Smith said.

But the Senate budget bill does not provide money for risk-management programs and information sharing, which are necessary for DHS to reorganize, according to a departmentwide review that DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff issued in July.

Katrina-related supplemental spending will include few IT opportunities, Smith said. Regardless of DHS cuts to IT, vendors should look out for interagency contracts and wait for DHS to reorganize its acquisition operations during the next three to four years, he said.

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