DHS to get big boost in cybersecurity spending in 2010

$397 million for agency's internal information security needs awaits Obama's signature

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will likely have a substantially bigger cybersecurity budget in fiscal 2010 than it does now.

The U.S. Senate yesterday passed legislation approving a budget of nearly $43 billion for the DHS for fiscal 2010. Of that, about $397 million is supposed to go toward improving cybersecurity within the agency. That's $84 million, or about 27%, more than the $313 million that was allocated for information security in fiscal 2009.

In approving the budget, the Senate said the increase was aimed at expediting efforts to combat cyberthreats using such measures as reducing the points of Internet access across the department and increasing security training and management capabilities.

The Senate measure reconciles different appropriation bills that were passed by the Senate and House appropriations committees. The bill is headed to President Obama for his signature.

The increase approved for DHS cybersecurity is "pretty hefty," said John Pescatore an analyst at Gartner Inc. "The real key thing is where does the money go?" he said. "How much of it will fund the same old stuff and how much of it will be on R&D?"

The amount set aside for DHS cybersecurity spending next year looks "about right" said Karen Evans, former de facto federal CIO under the Bush administration. The amount is meant for internal DHS operations only and is consistent with increases provided to other departments and agencies, she said. Cybersecurity spending across the government for 2010 is projected at about $7.5 billion, or about 10% of the total IT budget of $75 billion, she added.

The $43 billion appropriations bill included similar increases in other technology areas. A budget of about $1 billion, or about $75 million more than 2009, was approved for the DHS's department of science and technology, which conducts research on such areas as cybersecurity and air cargo security.

The bill also provides an additional $91 million on top of a previously approved $60 million for a massive data center migration and consolidation effort underway at the DHS. The consolidation is part of a move by the DHS to build a new 4.5 million-square-foot facility in the Washington area. Obama's economic stimulus package, which passed earlier this year, provided another $248 million for planning, design, IT infrastructure, fixtures and other costs related to the consolidation.

The Senate bill also extended the DHS's online employment eligibility verification program, called E-Verify, by three years and allocated $137 million for operating the system and for improving its reliability and accuracy. Opponents of E-Verify had claimed the system was too buggy and error-prone to be used as the federal government's primary tool for employment verification.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a reaction to the growing opposition to the program, funding for the controversial Real ID initiative was cut back 40% from $100 million to $60 million in 2010.

Real ID, launched during the Bush administration, requires states to meet new federal standards for issuing driver's licenses. It also requires links to driver's license databases around the country.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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