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Federal IT Budget Grows To $79.4 Billion

Tech spending in the U.S. government's just-released fiscal 2011 budget will go toward open government, cloud computing, cybersecurity, procurement, and performance management.

President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget includes $79.4 billion for federal IT spending, a 1.2% bump from the $78.4 billion 2010 budget level.

That number includes bullet point like $364 million for the operations of the Department of Homeland Security' National Cyber Security Division, a 30% increase in the budget for the Federal Adviation Administration's next-generation air traffic control system, new spending on health IT and increased spending to upgrade IT at the Small Business Administration.

The budget also lays out a number of key administration strategies for IT over the next year. For example, data center glut has become a major problem for the federal government, with the number of federal data centers jumping from 432 in 1998 to more than 1,100 last year, and the administration hopes to reverse this trend, it notes in the budget. Though the timing is unclear, the Office of Management and Budget plans to release a strategy to reduce both the number and cost of federal data centers.

The budget paints government cloud computing efforts -- which federal CIO Vivek Kundra has looked toward as a partial solution to some of the government's data center problems -- with a broad brush, saying only that, "after evaluation in 2010, agencies will deploy cloud computing solutions across the government" and pointing to both and the importance of security in cloud computing.

The administration also plans to centralize provision of a number of IT services for non-military agencies, a strategy largely untapped in the past. One of those platforms will be a government-wide collaboration platform to be deployed in 2011, and another will be a platform for geospatial data. "This approach could prevent billions in increased costs across the federal government over the next few years," the budget projects.

Open government remains a key part of the administration's IT efforts. The budget notes plans to re-launch the platform with new data, expand the use of, develop a Citizens' Services Dashboard to provide transparency into customer service, launch a Web-based "Challenge Platform" to allow citizens to participate in solving particular government problems, launch a new government regulations Website, work to release more data on research and development spending, and review the Paperwork Reduction Act and the Federal cookies policy.

Performance management is another key part of the administration's forward-looking IT strategy. For example, the budget disclosed that Kundra has begun holding "TechStat" sessions with agencies, using the IT Dashboard to help "detect IT problems early, reduce waste, and increase the rate of successful project completion."

In terms of cybersecurity, the budget includes plans to unveil a cybersecurity dashboard in the spring, improve its collection of cybersecurity spending, implement new metrics for use in 2010 Federal Information Security Management Act reporting,

Other plans include some procurement and workforce efforts. For example, the administration plans to help the government further pool its IT purchasing power by encouraging the expanded use of online purchasing Websites. To analyze federal IT workforce needs, the federal CIO Council will carry out a government-wide survey of federal IT pros in 2010.

In other tech spending, the 2011 budget propses $4.0 billion for networking and information technology research and development, $3.7 billion in funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, an additional $418 million in broadband spending, and a budget increase for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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