Bush proposes DHS budget increase
The White House’s $34.6 billion budget request for the Department of Homeland Security includes boosts for some multibillion-dollar programs supported by Lockheed Martin Corp. and other top defense contractors, The Associated Press reports.
The request provides an increase of $788.1 million for the Coast Guard’s fleet modernization program, including funding to complete the acquisition of four massive cutters. Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp., leads the so-called Deepwater modernization program, which last week was the subject a House hearing looking into its cost overruns and design deficiencies.
The President’s budget request includes $1 billion that would pay for fencing, vehicle barriers and technology used in border control, a program whose management has also been criticized by the Inspector General’s office. Chicago-based Boeing Co. last year won a three-year, $67 million contract to install a high-tech virtual fence along the Mexican border in Arizona, the first step in a multibillion-dollar plan to reduce illegal entry along the 6,000 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders.
The Bush administration’s budget proposal also provides $462 million to continue upgrading the screening of all visitors entering and leaving the country. That total includes $228 million to aid the transition from a two-fingerprint to a 10-print system, and enable communication between the systems used by Homeland security officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bermuda-based Accenture Ltd., a management and technology consulting company, is the lead contractor on the US-VISIT program, which currently collects two prints. Lockheed Martin built the FBI system.
Elsewhere, the DHS budget request includes $562 million for the agency’s nuclear detection office — a 17 percent increase over the current year — and $178 million to deploy port radiation monitors capable of screening 98 percent of cargo by the end of the year.
Josephine Millward, an analyst with Stanford Group Co., tells The AP that the boost is a positive for the firms competing for more than $2.5 billion in funding awarded last year under two separate nuclear detection programs. The companies are: L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., American Science & Engineering Inc., a Billerica, Mass.-based maker of X-ray inspection machines, Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, Thermo Electron Corp., now part of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., Raytheon Co. and Canberra Industries Inc.