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Obama Would Cut Military IT Budget

The White House budget proposal for fiscal 2013 would cut the Department of Defense's IT budget by 3.6%. But cybersecurity gets an increase.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progres
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The military is tightening its belt across the board, and the President's budget proposal for next year shows that information technology is no exception: The budget would slash military information technology spending by 3.6% in fiscal 2013, decreasing the Department of Defense's IT budget $1.4 billion from $38.6 billion in fiscal 2012 to $37.2 billion next year.

These cuts come as little surprise, as officials like DOD CIO Teri Takai have been hinting for months that they expected budget cuts.

"DOD will see large reductions across the board, and is preparing for those changes by investing in more agile and innovative IT," federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said during a call with reporters on Monday. "We're encouraged by DOD's commitment to do more with less and are sure that they will be able to continue to perform at a high level."

A big portion of DOD's savings will come from IT consolidation. For example, the Pentagon expects to save $300 million in 2013 thanks to data center consolidation. Over the next five years, IT consolidation could save the military $4.1 billion, according to DOD budget documents, including $1.6 billion from Navy IT consolidation, $1.4 billion from the Army, and $1.1 billion from the Air Force.

The IT and broadly IT-related programs that will see less funding include command-and-control systems, space systems, and overall science and technology investments, according to the budget.

DOD officials on Monday said the cuts would not hurt the military. "This budget creates a joint force that is lean, adaptable, ready, networked, and technologically advanced," Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry Spencer said in a press briefing.

Some programs, in particular cybersecurity, will see increases. The 2013 budget asks for $3.4 billion for Cyber Command, up from last year’s $3.2 billion. Over the longer term, the administration plans to spend $18 billion on Cyber Command over the next five years.

In its budget request, DOD highlighted improved cybersecurity as a "priority goal." The military said it aimed to achieve a "passing score" in a forthcoming comprehensive cybersecurity inspection that will assess DOD's compliance with IT security standards.

"Modern armed forces cannot conduct high-tempo, effective operations without reliable information and communication networks and assured access to cyberspace," the military said in a statement Monday outlining the budget.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has a number of IT-related research and development projects, was largely spared the cuts that hit other parts of the DOD budget. It saw its $2.8 billion budget cut by only $1.4 million.

InformationWeek and InformationWeek Government are conducting a survey on IT security and cybersecurity in U.S. federal government agencies. Upon completion of our survey, you will be eligible to enter a drawing to receive an Apple 16-GB iPad 2. Take our Federal Government Cybersecurity Survey now. Survey ends Feb. 24.

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