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2/14/2011
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Obama's Budget Boosts IT Spending 1.3%

The President's 2012 budget includes $79.5 billion in federal IT spending, including a significant amount of new spending on cybersecurity.

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The President's fiscal 2012 budget, released on Monday, calls for $79.5 billion in federal IT spending next year, an increase of 1.3% over the estimated $78.5 billion the government will spend on IT this year and a 1.9% increase over the 2009 enacted IT budget of $78 billion.

A chunk of that increase likely comes from cybersecurity. For example, the budget calls for $2.3 billion in new and ongoing spending on operational cybersecurity and cybersecurity research and development at the Department of Defense and greater joint planning efforts on cybersecurity between DoD and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as $119 million "to support full operational capability" for the military's new Cyber Command.

At DHS, the President's budget seeks $459 million to support the operations of the National Cyber Security Division, which is responsible for helping to secure civilian agency IT systems. DHS will upgrade the CyberScope cybersecurity monitoring tool, continue refining the National Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan, and deploy intrusion detection and prevention. DHS will also initiate CyberStat sessions, modeled on the Office of Management and Budget's TechStat IT performance sessions, to help correct weaknesses in federal cybersecurity programs.

A further $97 million will be spent on improving the security of online transactions, cybersecurity education, cybersecurity R&D, and network security at small agencies. The intelligence community will also see some additional cybersecurity spending, though the budget doesn’t detail how much, and there will be additional funding to improve the FBI's ability to investigate cybercrimes. The administration will also issue new cybersecurity metrics and implementation guidance.

One of the other big IT budget items over the next few years will be data center consolidation as part of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which aims to cut the number of federal data centers by 40% by 2015.

In addition to cybersecurity, the budget's Analytical Perspectives document, which breaks down key federal initiatives in certain subject areas and offers "additional presentations of budget data that place the budget in perspective," according to the Office of Management and Budget, offers up a number of key themes for this year's IT budget, including cybersecurity, infrastructure modernization (in particular, data center consolidation and cloud computing), managing the federal IT portfolio, and transparency.

As for infrastructure modernization, the budget adds some detail to the consolidation plans of the different federal agencies. Among the biggest cuts, in actual numbers, are the Department of Defense, which will go from 772 to 428 data centers, and, in percentage terms, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will go from 87 to 4. Some agencies, however, don't appear to be committed to much consolidation at all: The Department of Transportation will go from 35 to 31 data centers and the Department of Labor from 20 to 18, for example.

The overall budget doesn't provide too much detail into the government's future cloud computing plans, just as it doesn't dive too deep into future plans in its new 60-page cloud computing strategy document released last week. However, it does assert that cloud computing continues to be a key priority.

The budget calls out a number of individual IT programs and initiatives, such as a new weather and climate forecasting supercomputer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $126 million in next-generation robotics and computer chip R&D at the National Science Foundation, and a 13.9% increase in funding for advanced computational research and supercomputing at the Department of Energy.

It also highlights expected savings over the next five years from a number of IT projects, such as $75 million saved from "improved infrastructure investment practices" at the Internal Revenue Service, $96 million from infrastructure and service consolidation at the Department of Treasury's Bureau of the Public Debt and Financial Management Service, and $25 million saved in travel costs from a videoconferencing initiative at the Environmental Protection Agency. While the overall budget is growing, some agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, will see a decrease in IT budget (VA's budget shrinks 4.4% to $3.16 billion from 2011 continuing resolution levels of $3.31 billion). Others, of course, will see increases.

Legislation proposed in the budget also would help free up additional wireless spectrum and would give greater budget authority to the CIO of the Department of Agriculture.

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