Budget heavy on homeland security

The Bush administration's fiscal 2003 budget will emphasize homeland security, OMB director says

Bush speech on homeland defense

The Bush administration's fiscal 2003 budget will emphasize homeland security, defending the United States and fighting terrorism, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. said Jan. 24.

Daniels elaborated on President Bush's comments to members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors earlier in the day. At that meeting, Bush said the administration's fiscal 2003 budget will double spending on homeland security to $38 billion. Part of that money, however, was also included in the $48 billion increase in Defense Department spending Bush announced earlier this week.

The non-DOD homeland security spending will be more than $25 billion, Daniels said.

Details about specific information technology spending initiatives were not available and OMB officials said they would not comment further until the budget is released early next month.

The additional spending on homeland defense and DOD will mean that other priorities will be put on the back burner, Daniels said. "Other priorities will have to take a step back," he said in a speech to a group of government accountants Jan. 24.

"The first responsibility of the federal government is the physical safety of the American people," he said.

In addition to DOD, some agencies that will see a significant budget increase for homeland defense include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Transportation Department, he said.

Other agency budgets will see growth, "but it will be small," he said.

The fiscal 2003 budget will be officially released Feb. 4.

As part of making budget decisions, the administration increasingly will be focusing on the performance of projects, systems or programs. But such efforts have been difficult because agencies do not have financial systems that can create the necessary data, Daniels said.

Improving those financial systems is a critical piece of the president's management plan, he said. The goal is for agencies to have auditable books as well as accurate information so that officials have the data they need to make coherent management decisions, he said.

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