DHS Budget Undergoes Facelift
President Bush, in crafting the Department of Homeland Security’s budget for 2006, has shortchanged programs such as port security and local municipalities, experts contend.
The budget plans to consolidate several major programs and grants while creating several offices to improve strategic planning and deter a domestic nuclear attack.
The Bush administration is requesting $41.1 billion for DHS in fiscal 2006, a 7 percent increase over the fiscal 2005 level. Some of the money will come as a result of an increase in airline ticket prices. Fees for a one-way flight would jump by $3, to $5.50, or to $8 for a one-way flight that has more than one stop. The higher fees would mean that passengers would be paying for about 90 percent of the cost of the aviation security program that the federal government took over after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, up from about 60 percent today.
The budget proposes to consolidate various Homeland security screening and credentialing programs into a new Office of Screening Coordination and Operations, which would be responsible for several high-profile programs, such as the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology system, the department’s Secure Flight effort and the Transportation Worker Identification Credentialing program.
DHS wants to establish a Targeted Infrastructure Protection program to dole out grants for port, rail and surface transportation security. The program would provide $600 million in grants during fiscal 2006. This would eliminate the Port Secrity Grant Program — which has many up in arms.
“Unfortunately, the proposed federal budget the Administration released yesterday literally removes port security as a separate line item and leaves gaping holes in funding for the dredging needs of U.S. ports,” says Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
At the borders, an extra $125 million would be spent to improve border screening for nuclear weapons and dirty bombs and to improve coordination of nuclear screening programs at cities nationwide. However, the budget ignores Congress’ authorization of the addition of 2,000 Border Patrol agents in 2006. The proposed budget only funds 210 new positions.
The budget would alter the formula for grant funding to state and local municipalities. Under the new budget, funding would be dispersed based on risks and vulnerabilities, as opposed to population levels.
Overall, the budget sets aside $3.6 billion to train and equip first responders. It also proposes to create a Domestic Nuclear Detection Office with a budget of $227 million.
Homeland IT Spending to Jump
Spending on information security technologies at the Department of Homeland Security will rise by 10.3 percent, to $303.7 million, in fiscal 2006, according to President Bush’s budget plan.
The IT spending in-crease next year will outpace that for the overall Homeland security bud-get, which will grow by nearly 4 percent; however, IT represents only 0.74 percent of the total department expenditure planned for 2006.
Here are some of the IT programs in line to receive new funding:
$4.7 million to support maintenance and operations of the IT infrastructure to ensure continuous communications and continuity of operations.
$2.5 million to develop and deliver enterprise tools to track compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act and other programs, and to monitor continuity-planning implementations as well as to automate systems certifications and accreditations.
$2.5 million for the Metadata Solution Center for Excellence that supports the department’s implementation of the President’s National Strategy for Homeland Security. Identifying metadata and establishing common metadata standards for electronic information relevant to Homeland security represent key enablers for information sharing.
$2.5 million for the Solutions Engineering Center of Excellence, which designs and implements the core service components required to institute the department’s IT strategy.
$6 million for a smart-card initiative to provide a common set of credentials for physical and cyber identification for department employees.