DHS seeks 20 percent increase in IT spending

Bush administration's proposed fiscal 2007 budget

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The Bush administration is seeking a 21.2 percent increase in the Homeland Security Department's information technology spending, according to the president’s fiscal 2007 proposed budget.

Overall, the budget request calls for $42.7 billion in fiscal 2007, a nearly 6 percent increase collectively for DHS. The IT portion would increase from $3.64 billion this year to a proposed $4.41 billion.

In a press conference today, Secretary Michael Chertoff said the budget reflects emphasis on improving preparedness, information sharing, transportation security, border security and the department’s organization.

To that end, officials have proposed $100 million for border technology, specifically for electronic surveillance and operational response as part of the department’s Secure Border Initiative (SBI). But it’s unclear whether the money will be part of SBI when it is awarded before the end of fiscal 2006 or on top of the initiative. Also related to border security, the department is requesting nearly $460 million to pay for an additional 1,500 Border Patrol agents.

Officials are requesting an additional $62.9 million for the U.S. Visitor Immigrant Status and Information Technology (US-VISIT) program for fiscal 2007, which would bring the program’s total funding to $399.5 million. The additional money would help develop interoperability between the department’s Identity Database with the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and help capture 10 fingerprints instead on only two, as is currently done.

Under the new Preparedness Directorate, several state and local grants programs would get a boost. The Urban Area Security Initiative, which provides grants to high-risk urban areas, would see an increase of $80.65 million for a total of $838 million. The Targeted Infrastructure Protection grants would increase by $213.9 million, to a total of $600 million.

The Science and Technology Directorate would see a budget decrease from $1.47 billion to a little more than $1 billion for fiscal 2007. That’s because the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), which was formed under the directorate, will become a stand-alone office and the Counter-Man-Portable Air Defense Systems program is ending testing.

The DNDO office and its proposed $536 million budget includes money for radiation portal monitor acquisition program for ports, mobile detection systems that could be deployed to various locations and several other major programs.

Within the Science and Technology Directorate, the cybersecurity program would see a $7 million increase – to $22.7 million – under the fiscal 2007 budget for various programs.

Other budget proposals for major initiatives include:

  • $934.4 million for the Coast Guard’s Integrated Deepwater System, which is $10.7 million higher than this year’s funding.

  • $139 million for the Container Security Initiative and $55 million for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program.

  • $135 million to expand the Electronic Employment Verification program that would help employers verify whether their employees are legal aliens.

  • The chief information officer’s office would see a 10 percent increase from $294 million to nearly $324 million. Much of it will go toward supporting the IT Infrastructure Program, which provides IT infrastructure products and services to help agencies improve infrastructure, consolidation, information sharing and data collaboration.

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