AOH :: ISN-1691.HTM

FBI's cyber division wins key backing in Congress

FBI's cyber division wins key backing in Congress
FBI's cyber division wins key backing in Congress 

By Greta Wodele
National Journal's Technology Daily
November 14, 2005 

An FBI squad charged with catching computer hackers and designing
gadgets found financial backing this year from Senate appropriators,
who won support to restore $20 million in fiscal 2006 funding for the

"Cyber investigations have been deemed an FBI top priority mission by
the FBI and by this committee," the Senate Appropriations panel wrote
in its report on the measure to fund the Justice Department, among
others. "As such, the committee was surprised to learn the FBI imposed
funding decreases on the cyber division, particularly to the special
technologies and applications section, disproportionate to its mission
priority and impact on counter-terrorism efforts."

The section engineers support hundreds of counter-terrorism,
counter-intelligence and criminal investigations involving digital or
electronic information, according to the FBI. They also develop new
tools and technologies for various FBI projects, ranging from
computer-intrusion investigations to hostage rescue teams.

The FBI director has slashed $35 million from the squad over the last
five years. This year, Senate appropriators decided to stop the
gouging, directing the agency to restore the $35 million in cuts.

But when the committee met with House colleagues to craft a compromise
spending bill, the lawmakers settled on $20 million "because of
competing interests," the panel's spokeswoman said. The $20 million is
in addition to the division's estimated $65 million annual budget,
according to appropriations staffers.

An FBI official argued that the Senate appropriators' $35 million
figure is misleading because it included funding provided in emergency
spending measures from previous years.

"The amount referenced in the mark can be characterized by line items
that were funded for one year, rather than into perpetuity," the
official said, adding that the cuts also were due to government-wide
rescissions and the director's decision to transfer money to higher

"A program manager may be disappointed that their program was cut, but
they are taking it along with everybody else," said the official,
explaining that the agency used some of the funding to compensate
employees for a cost-of-living adjustment in their salaries and hire
personnel because Congress did not provide enough money this year for
compensation benefits.

The House last week overwhelmingly approved the final version of the
spending bill, and the Senate is likely to follow suit this week.

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