Justice seeks 2 percent budget increase, some IT cuts

FBI, prisons, U.S. Marshals see increases, while grants and wireless networks would be reduced

The Justice Department would get a 2 percent increase in fiscal 2012 for a budget of $28.2 billion under the White House’s budget request today. More money would go to prosecuting and investigating crimes and financial fraud, but several technology programs would see cuts.

One of the programs on the chopping block is the decade-old Integrated Wireless Network program. Its budget would be halved to $103 million from $206 million in fiscal 2010. The reduction was necessary because the program has become increasingly outdated and costly, and new technologies offer cheaper alternatives, White House officials said.

“A range of alternatives now exist that were not available when the project was originally conceived,” the Terminations, Reductions and Savings budget document states. "These alternatives, alone or in combination with each other and/or the current approach, can help accelerate delivery of better communications capabilities, such as data, video and applications, more cheaply.” Officials are conducting an assessment on how to modify the program.

In addition, the Justice Information Sharing Technology account's funding would be decreased to $54 million from $95 million in fiscal 2010. The account covers automated booking and office systems and systems for sharing classified information, among others.

Justice agencies in line for more money include the Federal Prison System, up 10 percent to $6.8 billion; U.S. Marshals Service, up 9 percent to $1.3 billion; the FBI, up 4.2 percent to $8.1 billion; U.S. Attorneys, up 3 percent to $2 billion; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, up 2 percent to $1.1 billion.

On the other hand, the Drug Enforcement Administration would get a 2 percent cut, reducing its budget to $2 billion. And the Office of Justice Programs, which oversees grants to communities, would see its funding reduced to $3 billion, a drop of 17 percent.

To achieve that reduction, the administration is targeting congressional earmarks in the grant programs. The 2010 enacted appropriation for Justice's grant com­ponents included 1,312 earmarks totaling more than $470 million.

“Not only does the budget not propose to continue such funding, the president has announced his intent to veto any appro­priation containing earmarks,” the budget documents state.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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