DOJ kills wireless network in budget request

The Justice Department has made it official—the Integrated Wireless Network program is over and there is no funding requested for it in the next fiscal year.

The department’s fiscal 2013 budget request released on Feb. 13 gives a stark view of the final years of support for the ambitious wireless network program that started in 2004: From $193 million two years ago, to $122 million this fiscal year, to zero next year.

The termination of the wireless network is just one of dozens of relatively small cuts being proposed for an array of smaller programs in the department. While the major agency budgets in the department budget remain relatively intact, there are small shifts in funding, both up and down, proposed for information-sharing and intelligence technologies and programs.

Overall, Justice would be allocated $27.1 billion in discretionary funding under the presidential request, a decrease of 0.4 percent below the 2012 level.

Major components including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshalls would see their funding unchanged. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would get slightly less, to $1.1 billion, down from $1.2 billion.

The integrated wireless network project was initiated in 2004 and within a short time grew to $5 billion in projected costs and coverage for more than 80,000 agents at Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury. About $350 million had been spent to date, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

The lack of funding proposed for the network account next year indicates a de facto termination of the program. However, the budget request notes that $87 million is proposed to be split among the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies to support the components’ efforts to maintain and improve their Land Mobile Radio and other mobile communications.

In another reduction proposed for fiscal 2013, the Justice Information Sharing Technology Program would be funded at $33 million, down from $47 million this year and $75 million last year.

The initiatives grouped under the info-sharing IT account include the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program, United Financial Management System and IT Cyber Security and Transformation.

The financial system IT is “to streamline and standardize business processes and procedures across components, providing secure, accurate, timely, and useful financial and procurement data to program managers, and to produce component and Department level financial statements.”

The cyber-related technology is intended to address emerging threats, provide intrusion detection and response, and implement cost enterprise architecture for storage, hosting, networking, shared services, applications, facilities, support and environmental services.

Another program targeted for change is the National Drug Intelligence Center, which received $20 million in funding this year. The center would be eliminated and funds for its mission would be transferred to the DEA's personnel and expense account.

Other programs proposed for funding include:

  • $81 million for FBI construction and infrastructure, including Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities and Secure Work Environments.
  • $27 million for the Regional Information Sharing for 6,000 city, county, state and federal law enforcement offices.
  • $20 million for Adam Walsh Act implementation to l help state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to develop and enhance sex offender registration and notification systems that are in compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
  • $15 million for the Economic, High-technology, and Cybercrime Prevention Program providing training and technical assistance to combat Internet crime.
  • $8 million for the Justice Information Sharing and Technology program for technical assistance to state and local information-sharing systems.
  • $1 million for the National Public Sex Offender Registry website linking state and local registries.
  • $1 million for website development as a clearinghouse for crime-related research.

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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