Administration asks for $20.5 billion increase for defense

Defense Department spending would increase by $20.5 billion in fiscal 2010 and DOD and the Veterans Affairs Department have some plans to increase spending on information technology, according to the budget request released today.

The budget requests $533.7 billion for DOD, a 4 percent increase over the 2009 defense budget.

The budget request doesn’t detail how that money will be spent, but a senior official  of the Office of Management and Budget official said some information technology spending is expected to increase.

“We fully fund IT and other areas that are necessary to implement the [Veterans Affairs] Department’s plan to bring services to veterans, and in particular fully fund those efforts needed to full implement the new GI Bill that was enacted last year,” the official said today.

Despite the lack of detail, the budget request does suggest some increases in IT spending

The Veterans Affairs Department would receive $25 billion over the next five years to expand services for veterans and some of the money would be used to modernize the VA, including investments in information technology, according to the budget request.

The funding would be spent to improve electronic medical records. “The VA will also invest in the development of rules-based electronic processes to increase accuracy, consistency, and timeliness in veterans’ receipt of benefits,” according to the budget.

Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would no longer be funded by supplemental funds, as was done under the previous administration, the OMB official said. The Obama administration will instead present two defense budgets to congress: a base budget and a military operations budget.

“Those budgets will be presented at the same time and have the same level of detail in terms of justification materials, and both will cover the entire year,” the official said.

Administration officials do not know what the future holds for specific programs such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

“That is detail we just don’t have at this point, when the budget comes out in April we’ll be able to answer some of those more detailed questions,” the official said.

The budget also calls for reforming the acquisition process because new weapons programs carry a high risk of performance failure, cost increases, and schedule delays. The administration said it plans to set realistic requirements for the programs and stick to those requirements.

A best practices system will not allow weapons programs to proceed from one stage of the acquisition cycle to the next until they have achieved the maturity to lower the risk of cost growth and schedule slippage, the budget states.


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