Appropriations

Senate bill would cut $500M from Defense IT budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a 2015 Defense Department budget that would cut a half-billion dollars in IT spending from the president’s requested budget, while maintaining increases for research and development and cybersecurity.

The committee passed the appropriations bill by voice vote on Thursday; there’s no schedule for when it would get to the full Senate.

The $500 million in cuts amount to 3 percent of the IT request and “will help prioritize and better target non-cybersecurity IT investments in an era of fiscal constraint,” according to the committee’s summary.

Among the cuts, the Senate bill would reduce spending on enterprise IT from $87.2 million to $72.2 million, and cut logistics IT spending from $109.6 million in the president’s request to $62 million.

The committee’s summary said cuts in all areas of the Defense budget—the Senate bill totals $549.3 billion, down from $572 billion enacted this year and the $550.7 billion in the president’s request—would eliminate billions in “wasteful, unnecessary and duplicative funding.” The bill targets 517 specific cuts “and redirects some of the approximately $11.7 billion in savings to higher priorities,” the summary states.

Among those higher priorities are non-medical research efforts of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which would get an overall increase of $257 million, or 5 percent. The bill also would increase medical research by 5 percent, adding $789 million.

DOD’s expanding cyber operations are another priority, as the bill would maintain the more than $5 billion request for the U.S. Cyber Command and various component agencies, all of which are increasing their workforces. The Rapid Innovation Fund, which supports small businesses in developing advanced national security technologies, would get $75 million.

The turmoil in Ukraine also plays a small part in the budget, which would earmark $25 million toward a competition to develop a domestic rocket engine. United Launch Alliance, which launches the vast majority of military satellites, has been catching political heat for using a Russian-made RD-180 engine in its Atlas V rockets. With the United States directing sanctions at Russia, ULA and the military are looking for an alternative.

The bill also includes a 1 percent pay increase for military and civilian personnel, though it would freeze pay for general and flag officers and slow the growth of the basic housing allowance.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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