Evans: IT budget numbers reflect priorities

2008 budget would give booster shot to health IT

The fiscal 2008 budget proposal increases total spending on information technology to $65.5 billion, or 2.6 percent over fiscal 2007’s $63.8 billion funding request, said Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for e-government and IT.

The budget proposal seeks an average overall IT funding increase for civilian agencies of 3 percent, according to budget documents from OMB. The administration has requested IT increases for slightly more than half agencies.

For five of 15 agencies with proposed increases, the requests were less than three percent, and a third of the 15 had double-digit percent increases.

Notably, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had a 45.5 percent increase, an increase of $43 million more than the fiscal 2007 request. All of the NRC’s 14 project business cases are on the Management Watch List for fiscal 2008, which OMB officials will supervise carefully, Evans said in a briefing with reporters.

The increases at agencies including the NRC reflect President Bush’s priorities in the coming fiscal year, Evans said. He supports energy reforms to diversify the country’s energy supply, as he said in his Jan. 23 State of the Union address.

The Health and Human Services Department had one of the largest dollar-figure increases at $506 million, according to budget documents.

The budget continues to fund another of president’s priorities, the Health IT initiative, which Bush also mentioned in his address. The proposal calls for a total of $5.3 billion for health-related IT investment, an increase of $700 million over the fiscal 2007 request.

The Treasury Department had the largest dollar increase of $560 million, according to the documents.

On the other side, 11 agencies had funding decreases. The budget requests $131 million less for the Transportation Department, and $127 million less for the Interior Department, documents show.

“This IT budget strongly supports the mission priorities of the federal government while exercising fiscal restraint in meeting the goal of a balanced budget by 2012,” Evans said.

The budget also reflects a commitment to work with agencies, inspectors general, the Government Accountability Office and Congress to strengthen the government’s IT security program within agencies existing resources, she said.

“In the last few years we’ve had the emphasis on security, but it’s clearly demonstrated by our actions in this past year that the plans and the things that we’ve had in place aren’t necessarily working to the extent that we would like for them to be,” Evans said.

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