Although Congress gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) $1 billion more in funding than President Bush requested, the DHS has approximately 30 percent less than the administration wanted for technology spending, according to a new report by Input, a Reston, Va.-based government research firm.
In early October, Bush signed into law the DHS Appropriations Act, funding the department at $29.4 billion. According to the report, early estimates indicate that Congress appropriated roughly $3 billion for technology, representing 10 percent of the total DHS budget, down from the president’s original request of $3.8 billion.
Lauren Shue, a senior analyst at Input, said most of the surplus will likely be used primarily for salaries for first responders and passenger, baggage and cargo screeners, not technology.
“Congress decreased funding from the president’s request for many of the major technology projects that have the most immediate impact on fighting terrorism, primarily because of concerns about the slow progress to date on several of these projects,” Shue said. “These reductions in funding will more likely result in scaled down projects rather than speeding DHS implementations along.”
Some of the largest and hardest hit technology projects include the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT) entry and exit system and the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) modernization program. US VISIT appropriations were reduced to $330 million, representing a 25 percent reduction in funding. ACE received $441 million in appropriations, a 29 percent slash in funding.
Year-over-year, technology funding remains flat with funding for technology projects in the 2004 DHS Appropriations Act equivalent to funding levels in 2003.