Transportation's 2009 budget targets gridlock relief

President Bush’s fiscal 2009 budget would double the investment in next- generation technologies to transform the air traffic control system from radar-based to satellite-based to accommodate the growing demand for air travel.

The budget would inject $688 million to begin to develop the system, Transportation Department Secretary Mary Peters has said about one of her department's objectives.

Transportation’s proposed budget calls for $63.2 billion in discretionary spending, $6 billion less than in fiscal 2008, and $1.2 billion in mandatory outlays. Information technology spending would rise 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion. IT spending on development would increase to $1.6 billion, while spending for IT operations would rise slightly to almost $1.4 billion.

“This budget helps us move forward on a new course that delivers high levels of safety, takes advantage of modern technology and financing mechanisms, and eases congestion with efficient and reliable transportation systems,” Peters said Feb. 4 in announcing the Transportation budget.

Almost a third of the budget would go toward safety programs to help make travel safer by focusing on problem areas like runway incursions and near misses in the air, motorcycle crashes and pedestrian injuries. The budget would also provide funding to hire additional safety personnel, such as air traffic controllers and pipeline inspectors.

Peters said the budget also proposes to use $175 million in inactive earmarks and 75 percent of certain discretionary highway and transit program funds to fight congestion, giving priority to projects that combine a mix of pricing, transit and technology applications.

Among developing IT projects, the department’s Delphi financial management system would receive a boost of $21 million.

In addition to funding for the NextGen satellite-based system, the Federal Aviation Administration would target $33.5 million for Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X to prevent runway accidents and $207 million for the En Route Automation Modernization, less than was spent during the past two years. ERAM provides the hardware and software for interfaces, communications and support infrastructure for emerging capabilities in the nation’s airspace.

Transportation would receive $23.2 million for departmental IT infrastructure, including for the new headquarters building in Washington.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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