February 2, 2004 4:18 PM PST

Bush budget sweeps in tech, cybercrime

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President George W. Bush on Monday proposed a $2.4 trillion federal budget that boosts spending on information technology and on computer crime investigation.

The record budget request for the 2005 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2004, asks Congress to ignore a widening deficit of $521 billion and to increase defense spending by 7 percent and homeland security spending by 10 percent.


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In a letter to Congress accompanying the proposed budget, Bush acknowledged the record gap between spending and tax revenue. "Economic growth and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars will help us meet another important priority: cutting the budget deficit brought on by recession and war," Bush said. "We must continue to evaluate each federal program, to make sure that it meets its goals, and produces the desired results."

Total federal spending on information technology would grow to $59.8 billion, up slightly from the $59.1 billion requested by Bush last year. The Defense Department takes a large portion, with a proposed $27.4 billion, followed by the Department of Health and Human Services with $5 billion and the Department of Homeland Security at $4.4 billion.

While funding for most federal agencies would only grow by a few percent, notable exceptions were the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, which would each get an increase of around 10 percent.

The Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division, which distributed information about the Blaster worm and SoBig virus, would receive $80 million.

"Cyberspace security is a key element of infrastructure protection because the Internet and other computer systems link many infrastructure sectors," an analysis prepared by the White House said. "The consequences of a cyber attack could cascade across the economy, imperiling public safety and national security."

The Justice Department's budget would balloon to around $22.1 billion, including an 11.4 percent increase for the FBI. About $35 million of that is earmarked for the Terrorist Threat Integration Center--a somewhat amorphous organization designed to share information with the CIA that has alarmed civil libertarians. Corporate fraud investigators would receive $1.45 million in extra cash.

The Justice Department's spending on cybercrime would leap from the $157 million allocated by Congress for the 2003 fiscal year to $265 million. The agency's Internet Crimes Against Children program, which investigates child pornography and "enticement" cases, would receive a $2 million increase, to reach $14.5 million.

According to the White House, FBI counterterrorism spending has risen "from $0.9 billion in 2003 to $1.3 billion in 2005, with the 2005 budget providing an increase of approximately $300 million over the 2004 level. This increase will support a range of activities, such as counterterorism (sic) investigations and countering cyber crime."

Bush's request for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would increase the budget from $497 million to $522 million, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) would be authorized to keep all the $1.5 billion it projects it will receive in application and related fees for the 2005 fiscal year.

Congressional Democrats quickly criticized Bush's plan as one that fails to create jobs and instead creates record deficits. It shortchanges education, health care, veterans' benefits, and small business, they said.

 

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