• United States
Executive Editor

Bush seeks $59 billion IT budget

Jan 24, 20033 mins

President George W. Bush will ask Congress for $59 billion in IT spending when he submits his 2004 budget next month. The request is 12% larger than last year’s $52.6 billion request and reflects the administration’s intent to bolster systems security, according to a top e-government official.

Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government with the Office of Management and Budget, gave an overview of the proposed 2004 IT budget this week at Oracle’s AppsWorld show in San Diego. Of the $59 billion requested, $37 billion is earmarked for technology to support agency programs; $21 billion is for networks and infrastructure; and $1 billion is to enhance agency efforts to modernize operations.

Forman attributed a large portion of the proposed budget increase – $1.6 billion – to better reporting of what’s actually being spent this year; the updated 2003 IT budget is $54.2 billion. New IT projects supporting homeland security and the war on terrorism also are on tap.

Specifically, the 2004 budget is expected to include $4.7 billion for cybersecurity – which includes desktop, data, applications and network security projects; threat and vulnerability efforts; business continuity; and privacy protection. This figure represents a 10% increase over 2003 cybersecurity spending.

In addition to cybersecurity efforts, other key elements of the administration’s IT agenda include: consolidating and integrating redundant applications; developing a governmentwide enterprise architecture, including Web-based strategies for improving access to information and services; and making IT workforce improvements, particularly in project management.

Nothing is set in stone, of course. The proposed 2004 budget includes over 700 major projects that the government considers “at risk,” according to Forman. Representing $21 billion in spending, these projects have not yet shown sufficient potential for success through a business case, or have not yet adequately addressed IT security.

Forman also laid out six chronic problems that the Bush Administration identified:

  • Paving cowpaths, which describes a trend for agencies to automate management problems instead of using e-business technologies to fix them.

  • Redundant buying, which involves multiple agencies buying the same item independently instead of making use of economies of scale.

  • Poor program management, with few projects delivered on time and on budget.

  • Poor modernization blueprints, with few agencies developing roadmaps for IT investments that improve performance.

  • Islands of automation, which make it difficult for agencies to collaborate on key missions such as homeland security, and for citizens who have to deal with multiple agencies to get service.

  • Poor cybersecurity, whereby IT security was viewed as an IT or funding issue, instead of an agency management issue.

The 2004 budget plan continues to focus on these recurring problems, according to Forman.