USDA IT budget boosts financial management modernization funds

President Bush requested $2.4 billion for information technology for the Agriculture Department in fiscal 2009, slightly higher than the $2.3 billion for this year, in his budget proposal unveiled today. Overall IT development and modernization is slightly lower for 2009 at $472.9 million from this year. But maintaining IT operations rises to $1.9 billion in 2009 from this year.

Under the 2009 budget, the Office of the Chief Information Officer would receive an increase from $16.4 million to $18.3 million.

Financial management gets a significant boost from $51.3 million to $79 million, including the department’s financial modernization initiative and the Human Resources Line of Business. New funds for management initiatives, some of which are reaching maturity, are slashed to $10.6 million from $20.1 million. But under the management projects, IT security implementation receives $1.3 million; the integrated acquisition system, $2.3 million; and the enterprise content management system for electronic filing and standard workflow, $2.2 million.

Food safety initiatives would receive $41.6 million, mostly for the online supply chain management for commodities USDA uses and purchases, but the National Animal Identification System would obtain $2 million. USDA would continue the consolidation of its infrastructure and telecommunications and office automation with $30.4 million. Enterprise architecture and planning would increase to $6.1 million. Grants to state and local government would jump to $107.4 million to support electronic benefits transfers for food stamps and special nutrition programs.

In its overall budget, USDA would receive $94.76 billion in 2009 compared with $94.77 billion for this year. Bush proposed increases in discretionary spending for commodities, food and nutrition, and central administration. Mandatory spending jumped for crop insurance, agricultural marketing and natural resources conservation services.

Bush plans to improve import and domestic food safety through inspection for compliance, determining the equivalency of foreign food safety inspection systems and strengthening the ability to detect harmful agents in food with rapid test capabilities. He also would monitor and respond to pests and diseases of plants and animals here and overseas, including necessary regulations.

On limiting the budget, Bush plans to reform and tighten payments to farmers and broad waivers in the food stamp program. He also identifies 33 programs worth $2.3 billion for termination, including the commodity supplemental food program, which duplicates Food Stamps and the Women Infants and Children nutrition programs; resource conservation development because it duplicates other USDA programs; and watershed planning programs because it is not a core federal responsibility.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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