Congress Splits on Defense IT Spending

House wants $1.7 billion in cuts to force spending below 2003 levels. Senate, Bush push for full funding.


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The House and the Senate are $1.7 billion apart in their IT spending plans for the Department of Defense (DoD). Last week, the House slashed that amount from the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act while the Senate approved the request backed by the Bush Administration.

Overall, both chambers approved more than $400 billion in budget funds for the DoD. Both IT spending versions now go to a joint negotiating committee.

In an official Office of Management and Budget (OMB) statement, the Bush administration expressed disappointment with the House version of the bill.

"The administration strongly opposes the bill's $1.7 billion reduction in for IT programs, including the $1.4 billion across-the-board reductions across several titles," the statement says. "At a time when IT investment is becoming even more crucial to success on the battlefield and in business, the committee has proposed cutting the department's IT budget by over 7 percent, reducing the allocation below 2003 levels."

The OMB statement added, "These reductions to the IT budget request would seriously impair the department's ability to continue the global war on terrorism and defense transformation."

House Armed Service Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.) defended the cuts, contending Pentagon fiscal and management reforms were necessary.

"Important policy reforms would also be implemented by this legislation. These range from acquisition reforms that would benefit small businesses to the modernization of the Pentagon's outdated civilian personnel system," said Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "The new system would be based on many years of successful programs supported by the tens of thousands of current personnel who participated.

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