USDA's IT funding gets slight increase in budget proposal

Agriculture Department is requesting $406 million for IT programs

The Agriculture Department would see a slight funding increase for its IT programs under President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal released today.

The White House requested about $406 million for USDA's IT programs in fiscal 2012, compared with the $404 million expected in the fiscal 2011 continuing resolution and the $396 million spent on those programs in fiscal 2010.

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The budget documents do not clearly delineate USDA’s IT programs for the next fiscal year, but they do mention that some IT funds would be used to support “acquisition workforce effectiveness or for management solutions to improve acquisition management.”

The department also wants to reduce its data centers from 46 to seven by 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s IT management reform effort. It would do so by adopting light technologies and shared solutions.

The Obama administration announced a shift to a cloud-first policy when it released the IT reform plan in December 2010. That same month, USDA said it would move its e-mail systems to cloud providers.

In the budget analysis, the administration predicts that by March 2011, “firm targets will be announced for agency implementation plans for [the] data center consolidation initiative, an area that is ripe for shared services and common solutions.”

Overall, the president’s proposal would provide $23.9 billion in discretionary funding for USDA, a decrease of $3.2 billion from enacted spending levels. USDA is spending in areas aligned with the administration’s priorities, which include renewable energy and research into areas such as reducing obesity.

The administration is projecting savings at USDA by reducing direct payments to high-income farmers, refocusing USDA’s homeownership programs and targeting the department’s conservation programs to high-priority ecosystems.

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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