Homeland Security Appropriations

The Homeland Security Appropriations were passed last week before Congress went home to campaign. The news is mixed with the total appropriations for R&D coming in at $838 million —more than either the House or the Senate recommended individually. The cyber security R&D program will see an increase of $3.3 million to $20 million, up from $16.7 million in FY2006. While it’s nice that there’s an increase to the cyber security account, the level is still well below “adequate,” as PITAC pointed out last year in its report on the federal cyber security research effort Cyber Security R&D: A Crisis of Prioritization. Ed Lazowska, former Chair of PITAC, put it nicely in this interview with CIO Magazine last year:

Most egregiously, the Department of Homeland Security simply doesn’t get cybersecurity. DHS has a science and technology (S&T) budget of more than a billion dollars annually. Of this, [only] $18 million is devoted to cybersecurity. For FY06, DHS’s S&T budget is slated to go up by more than $200 million, but the allocation to cybersecurity will decrease to $17 million! It’s also worth noting that across DHS’s entire S&T budget, only about 10 percent is allocated to anything that might reasonably be called “research” rather than “deployment.”

Hopefully, this is high on the agenda of the Department’s new Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications, Greg Garcia, who was appointed to the post on September 18th.
Further bad news in the R&D section is that University Programs received $50 million, which is less than the $62 million appropriated last year and below the President’s request of $51.9 million.
Congress used the appropriations bill to express its displeasure with the way Homeland Security S&T has been managed and its expectation that things must improve if S&T is to get any increased appropriations in the future. In fact, Congress expressly withheld $50 million from the R&D budget until the office presents, and Congress approves, “a report prepared by the Under Secretary of Science and Technology that describes the progress to address financial management deficiencies, improve its management controls, and implement performance measures and evaluations.” They also included language requiring a hearing within 60 days of enactment on “the University-Based Centers of Excellence Program goals for fiscal year 2007 and outcomes projected for each center for the next three years.”
As the bill has not yet been signed by the President (although it is expected to be), the Department is operating under a continuing resolution extending the FY2006 budget numbers.