Border security dominates DHS technology budget request

Border security dominates DHS technology budget request
Border security dominates DHS technology budget request 

By Jill R. Aitoro  
February 5, 2008

Roughly half of the Homeland Security Department's $5.4 billion 
information technology budget will go to ongoing system development and 
modernization programs for border control and protection.

Cybersecurity funds largely will come from alternative sources, said DHS 
Secretary Michael Chertoff, who described the budget as a whole as 
"strong and fiscally sound."

DHS divided spending in its IT budget into four parts: IT investments by 
mission; IT infrastructure and office automation; enterprise 
architecture and planning; and grants management. The bulk of IT funds 
($3.7 billion) were allocated to investments by mission. Those 
investments included :

    * Financial management: fiscal 2009 budget request: $107.1 million, 
      down 8.7 percent from the $117.3 million enacted in fiscal 2008;

    * Protection from dangerous people: fiscal 2009 budget request, $2.6 
      billion up from $2.5 billion enacted in fiscal 2008 budget;

    * Protection from dangerous goods: fiscal 2009 budget request: $19.3 
      million, an increase of 33.1 percent from $14.5 million enacted in 
      fiscal 2008;

    * Protection of critical infrastructure: fiscal 2009 budget request:  
      $322.3 million, up 24.2 percent from $259.4 million enacted in 
      fiscal 2008;

    * Emergency response and preparedness: fiscal 2009 budget request:  
      $519.4 million, down 2.6 percent from $533.1 million enacted in 
      fiscal 2008; and

    * Strengthening and unifying operations and management: fiscal 2009 
      budget request: $116.8 million, a 12.8 percent decrease from 
      $133.9 million enacted in fiscal 2008.

Chertoff said in a Feb. 4 briefing that the IT budget published by the 
Office of Management and Budget does not account for all homeland 
security IT spending. A significant percentage of IT funds comes from 
different areas of DHS and other federal budgets. In particular, he said 
cybersecurity, which accounted for only $294 million of the DHS budget, 
receives funding from other parts of the federal budget. (The majority 
of the DHS cybersecurity budget will pay for the continued deployment of 
the Einstein system, an automated process for collecting and analyzing 
computer security information across civilian agencies to protect 
against cyberthreats and intrusions.)

"There [is] our internal IT budget, in terms of development of our [own] 
IT processes," Chertoff said. "Then there is the budget for the Cyber 
Security Initiative, which is a separate item [with] a very hefty 
increase. Additionally, other agencies that will participate in 
[cybersecurity initiatives] will have their own budget. So it will be a 
well-funded effort." Chertoff would not specify the overall amount that 
would go toward cybersecurity, although the Wall Street Journal reported 
last month that the Bush administration plans to spend $6 billion on the 

Border security and immigration dominated the budget. Of the $775 
million requested for the Secure Border Initiative, which includes 
building a high-tech surveillance system of radars, cameras and ground 
sensors along a 28-mile section in southern Arizona, $157 million will 
go to the ongoing development of command, control, communications and 
intelligent systems that improve the exchange of information at the 

An additional $4.2 million was requested for the U.S. Visitor and 
Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, which electronically 
tracks the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens into and out of the 
United States. Funds will be used to complete interoperability between 
US VISIT's Automated Biometric Identification System and the FBI's 
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification system. The budget also 
allocated $140 million to the continued rollout of the U.S. Customs and 
Border Protection's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires 
all travelers to present approved documents for entry into the United 

"This is somewhat less than we received in '08 because we expected in 
this fiscal year [that we would] be building the vast majority of the 
infrastructure we need to have WHTI in place, up and running, by June 
2009, when we can begin the process of implementation," Chertoff said.

DHS plans to support 39 of the highest volume land ports, which account 
for 95 percent of all vehicle border traffic, with WHTI in fiscal 2009.

The department requested $100 million for E-Verify, which allows 
employers to use an automated system to verify personal information, 
including Social Security numbers and immigration information, against 
federal databases to confirm the employment eligibility of new hires. 
DHS allocated $57 million for the automation and modernization of IT 
systems for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Although DHS' fiscal 2009 IT budget is flat compared with the fiscal 
2008 IT budget, the potential IT contracts from the budget are 
declining, said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge 
officer at the McLean, Va., market research firm Federal Sources, which 
analyzed DHS' proposed total spending to identify all potential contract 

"The addressable portion of the broader DHS budget is declining more 
than 18 percent," Bjorklund said. "So why is the DHS budget evaporating? 
The grants programs are being cut in half. Addressable investments in 
capital assets ranging from computers to cutters are dropping by about 
25 percent [and] addressable spending on supplies and services will drop 
about 17 percent."

The House Homeland Security Committee said in a released statement that 
the budget "fails to provide adequate funding to some of the most 
significant homeland security issues."

In terms of IT, "the budget requests only $10 million to address 
deficiencies at [Customs and Border Protection]-owned ports of entry, 
which is almost insignificant compared to the need for additional 
security, new inspection facilities and replacement of aging 

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