IT budget increase impacts most agencies

The fiscal 2008 IT budget request is more similar to the administration’s plan for 2006 than this year’s. In a sense, the Office of Management and Budget has gone back to the future.

Instead of the IT increases centering around the war on terror or homeland security, a majority of the agencies could see their IT budget increase — some quite substantially — to meet the administration’s and the Democratic controlled Congress’ priorities. The uptick is what many experts expected to happen all along, instead of seeing a request of less than 1 percent increase from 2006 to 2007.

Of the top 27 largest agencies, 17 would receive more IT money in 2008 than what the administration requested in 2007. The 2007 actual budget numbers are not available, since agencies still are working under a continuing resolution.

The biggest winners, by percentage, could include the Small Business Administration, which could see a 75 percent increase over 2007; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which could see a 45.5 percent uptick; and the Education Department, which the administration slated to receive 37 percent more next year.

In all, OMB asked Congress for a 2.6 percent increase to $65.4 billion in 2008 from the $63.8 billion request for this year.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, today said increases centered on what President Bush wants to focus on over the next two years.

“NRC’s increase, for instance, supports the president’s priorities to find alternative energy sources,” Evans said during a briefing with reporters in Washington. “Treasury is up because we have to have better systems for collecting taxes, but also because of the work they do in the war on terror financing.”

The Defense Department also would see a decent increase of 2.1 percent to $31.3 billion. Last year, DOD’s request was down by 3 percent, or almost $1 billion.

And for those agencies that didn’t see increases, Evans said the success of the move to consolidate systems and share common, governmentwide applications is evident.

One example Evans pointed to was the Agency for International Development, which could see the largest decrease to $89 million from $134 million in 2008.

“A lot of AID’s activities are being consolidated with State [Department],” she said.

One of the biggest surprises is the Homeland Security Department’s IT budget, which would drop by $44 million or 1.1 percent in 2008. This comes after DHS has seen increased requests of almost 25 percent in 2006 and 48 percent in 2007 budget submissions.

Agency spending on new projects and those that already exist also would remain flat in 2008. While OMB did not provide specific numbers because the 2007 budget situation still is in flux, Evans said it estimated that spending on steady-state IT projects would account for about 34 percent of the budget—a 1 percent drop from 2007 request. The spending to develop, modernize or enhance IT projects would remain at 39 percent, while agency budgets for mission critical applications would not increase from the 36 percent for 2007.

For the first time, OMB also provided details of how many systems have been shut down and replaced by cross agency e-government projects. Between the fourth quarter of 2005 and the first quarter of 2007, OMB said, 44 agency systems were terminated, including 16 e-payroll systems and 23 acquisition systems.

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