February 5th, 2002, 04:18 PM
Bush Eyeballs Heavy Tech Spending
Bush Eyeballs Heavy Tech Spending
WASHINGTON -- President Bush is asking Congress to grant federal police hundreds of millions of dollars for surveillance, information-sharing and computer upgrades.
In his proposed 2003 budget sent to Capitol Hill on Monday, Bush proposed an unprecedented increase on spending for anti-terrorism efforts, saying that doing so "recognizes the new realities confronting our nation, and funds the war against terrorism and the defense of our homeland."
Because the complex document is merely a proposal, Congress will spend much of this year wrangling over what form the final budget will take for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2002.
Bush proposes spending $2.13 trillion for the 2003 fiscal year, a 3.7 percent overall increase from this year's spending. But if you don't count mandatory programs like Social Security, discretionary spending jumps $124 billion, or 19 percent.
One of the biggest winners would be the Justice Department, which includes the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the thousands of DOJ attorneys in the criminal, civil and other divisions. The DOJ would get a budget increase of $1.8 billion to a total of $30.2 billion, not counting $539.2 million it already received as part of an emergency spending bill enacted after Sept. 11.
The FBI would receive $61.8 million and 201 more employees or contractors to support the agency's "surveillance capabilities to collect evidence and intelligence," the DOJ said in a statement on Monday afternoon. That would allow the FBI to devote more resources than ever to controversial spy technologies like Carnivore, keyboard logging devices, and Magic Lantern.
Included in that figure is: $5.6 million to expand an unnamed FBI "data collection facility," $32 million and 194 positions devoted to intelligence and information gathering, $10.9 million for expanded electronic surveillance, $11.3 million for an "Electronic Surveillance Data Management System," and $2 million for the Special Operations Group's intelligence and surveillance operations.
In addition, the FBI would receive $157.6 million to upgrade and enhance its computer systems.
The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection and Computer Intrusion Program would get $21 million and 138 new hires, including 81 agents. The purpose: To respond to "cyber-attacks" and investigate electronic intrusions.
To handle the expected increase in wiretaps, especially ones approved by the shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, the Department of Justice itself would get a boost. The budget anticipates hiring another 10 wiretap-specialist attorneys at a cost of $2 million.
On Capitol Hill, initial reaction to the budget was cautious and followed party lines. "The President's budget is a good first step in what is sure to be one of the most challenging budget seasons we've seen in quite some time. The biggest challenge will be to control spending while meeting all of our priorities," said House Budget committee chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa).
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said: "While President Bush should be commended for his commitment to defense and homeland security in his budget released today, he should seriously reconsider his fiscal priorities for our future economic growth." To cover in part the budget increases, Bush has proposed cutting highway spending and environmental projects.
Other agencies include:
Patent and Trademark Office: The PTO would receive a remarkable 21.2 percent budget increase. James Rogan, Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, said on Monday that the cash would let him hire 950 more patent examiners.
General Services Administration: It may be best known for the humble task of maintaining government buildings, but the GSA is also responsible for providing "one-stop access to federal services via the Internet or telephone." Bush proposes $45 million for an "e-gov" fund to be handled by a new "Office of Citizen Services," a jump from last year's request of $20 million.
National Commission on Libraries and Information Science: President Bush proposes to eliminate this minor bureaucracy, saying its $1 million budget could be better spent by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. That institute would receive $211 million, $16 million than last year.
National Archives and Records Administration: Digital signatures, designed to be impossible to forge, finally will make their way into the venerable Federal Register, the voluminous record of new government regulations. NARA will also receive $2.3 million to spend on its Electronic Records Management project.
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