For the first time since 2009, the federal IT budget is seeing a modest increase. But far from all agencies can expect an influx in their IT dollars.
In an April 10 conference call with reporters, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel outlined the fiscal year 2014 IT budget request and the administration’s current work to drive innovation in government.
Since 2009, the federal IT budget has stayed relatively stagnant at about $80 billion but the new request would bring the total to about $82 billion — a 2.1 percent increase from 2012 and a flat 0.78 percent compound annual growth rate since 2009, VanRoekel said.
Under the 2014 budget request, the Veterans Affairs Department, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Small Business Administration would get the largest increases in funding. Compared to FY 2012, VA would receive a more than 22 percent increase, partly to reduce the benefits backlog and to continue working on the integrated health records effort with the Defense Department, VanRoekel said. Additionally, NRC would see an 11.9 percent bump and SBA would get 11.3 percent more funding toward IT.
Other agencies won’t be as lucky, and will continue seeing “high-level declines” in their budgets, VanRoekel said. The Housing and Urban Development Department’s IT budget would be slashed by nearly 13 percent, and the General Services Administration would see its IT budget decrease by more than 9 percent. Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget would be cut by almost 9 percent.
Last year saw increased attention on cybersecurity. The Homeland Security Department, for example, funneled more than $200 million to support continuous monitoring. The 2014 budget devotes more than $13 billion to cyber-related initiatives, and nearly $80 million would be allocated to DHS, Justice Department and DOD to fund new activities around incident response, VanRoekel said.
“We’ve got a real opportunity to innovate, deliver, protect and analyze,” VanRoekel said. The overall goal, he said, is to continue drive the successes around innovation and bolster federal cybersecurity.
Despite the $2 billion bump in federal IT dollars, VanRoekel cautioned against anticipating flush IT budgets. “One year doesn’t indicate a trend; you have to look across several years,” he said, pointing out that IT spending has been steadily declining when numbers are adjusted for inflation.
The key to IT investment is to shy away from investing “like we’ve invested in the past,” VanRoekel said. “On a flat budget, that’s not sustainable,” he said. “We’ve got an opportunity to change the game, and if we’re investing more, we have to invest in new ways.”