Budget

Budget request for classified IT climbs 14 percent

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The federal government does not release a budget number for classified IT spending, but the president's annual request releases one figure for overall defense related IT, while another figure confined to non-classified projects is reported in the federal IT Dashboard.

The distinction is explained in a note in the Information Technology section of the Analytical Perspectives budget document released March 10, which reads, "Defense IT spending includes estimates for IT investments for which details are classified, and not reflected on the IT Dashboard."

By that measure, President Barack Obama is requesting about $6.15 billion in classified IT spending for fiscal 2015, based on the $35.37 billion request for defense IT and the $29.22 billion in projects set to be reported on the federal IT Dashboard, when the Defense Department releases its Exhibit 53 document, toting up non-classified IT spending, expected in early April. (Currently, the Exhibit 53 document is available for the combined civilian agencies.)

The $6.15 billion request is up about 14 percent from the $5.4 billion revealed in the fiscal 2014 budget. Details on planned IT spending are thin. The request "expands the use of common, secure, shared IT capabilities and services through the integrated clooud hosting environment, continues support for the protection of the critical networks that faciliate information sharing and operational requirements, and accelerates various information protection and access control mechanisms," according to the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Program budget for 2015. Overall the adminstration is seeking $45.6 billion for intelligence agencies.

The "unofficial official" number does not fully describe the classified IT spend, for a few reasons. The $79 billion the administration identifies as federal IT in its 2015 budget request may not include research and development, space exploration and computer componets of weapons systems -- classified or unclassified. Additionally, highly detailed fiscal 2013 budget documents leaked by former intelligence community contractor Edward Snowden revealed that budgets for classified IT systems hovered around $8 billion -- far higher than the figure that could be deduced from comparing the budget request and the IT dashboard.

The Snowden documents indicated enterprise IT spending at intelligence agencies was $4.7 billion in fiscal 2013 -- more than the overall IT spends the reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, NASA, and the Justice Department.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 12, 2014

That just goes to show that not everything is black and white on paper. We need to spend money on intelligence but lets be fair about it, some of that is spent on things like 6 figure salaries that the rest of us are not getting, vehicles that the rest of us are not getting, gracious per diems that the rest of us do not get. We missed 3 years of raises for what to make the government look like they were doing there job. The ones doing there job were us at the bottom, the top management Presidents, Congressmen, senators are just playing politics with our lives. Let those countries take care of themselves, see how much they really care about us. We keep giving money away like it grows on trees, that tree does not have anymore to give and that is where the buck needs to stop. We can all say God Bless America, but do we really mean it.

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