Obama's 2013 IT budget: Less for DOD, less overall

A primary goal of the budget is to do more with less, says CIO VanRoekel

U.S. President Barack Obama will request a 2013 federal IT budget of US$78.9 billion, a decrease of 0.7 percent from the government's 2012 budget.

The 2013 budget request reflects an effort to "do more with less," said Steven VanRoekel, CIO for the Obama administration. Congress' enacted fiscal year 2012 budget is $79.5 billion, while the actual IT budget for 2011 was $80.2 billion.

The top priorities for the 2013 IT budget will be improving cybersecurity and pumping up e-government efforts aimed at citizen and business interaction with agencies, VanRoekel said. The budget includes $202 million for a continuous, government-wide threat monitoring program at the Department of Homeland Security.

Another top priority will be to improve return on the government's IT investment. "We must maniacally focus on reducing waste and duplication in government IT," he said.

The U.S. Department of Defense, which consumes nearly half of the government's budget will see a decrease of $1 billion, or 2.7 percent, VanRoekel said during a press briefing. Agencies seeing the largest IT increases in the Obama budget are the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The cuts at the DOD are driven by the closing of 100 data centers, saving about $300 million, and increases in efficiency through modernization, VanRoekel said.

Part of the Department of Treasury's $358.7 million increase will focus on technology to help U.S. residents file their taxes, VanRoekel said. The $179 million increase at HHS will go partially toward improving IT systems at hospitals and clinics, and the VA's $216.1 million increase will support the agency's joint effort with the DOD to provide military veterans with electronic health records.

VanRoekel plans to launch or expand three programs aimed at providing federal agencies with more outside IT expertise in the coming months, he said. He will use so-called IT expert SWAT teams to assist troubled IT projects.

The CIO office will also expand an Entrepreneur in Residence Program, which rotates private sector IT workers through government agencies on a short-term basis, and VanRoekel plans to start hiring workers from the Presidential Technology Fellows Program, which launched in late 2011.

The 2013 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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