Department of Justice FY 2015 IT Budget Request Snapshot

Published: March 19, 2014


Now that the dust has mostly settled from the release of the new fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request many of us have had some time to dig a bit below the surface to get a sense of direction and priorities for information technology (IT) for the next year. As is often the case with IT budgets over the last few years the news is mixed. But that’s not all bad, especially when you see programs that have had some relative seed money over the last few years get some significant investment. That’s the case with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The day the budget was released we looked at the high points of the top ten departments. Last week I took a “snap shot” look at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) IT budget and noteworthy investments. This week I will do the same for the Department of Justice.

DOJ IT and New Development Budgets

A simple slice of the DOJ IT budget shows how the department is allocating its $2.5B in proposed budget across its component agencies, bureaus and offices. Their overall IT budget is a $23M (-0.9%) decrease from FY 2014 and $53M (-2.1%) less than FY 2013. Depending on how you compare it, the fairly minor $23M reduction means their IT budget is essentially flat, but in the current fiscal environment I prefer the phrase “relatively sustained.”

The year-over-year changes to each component budget vary from -6.9% to +11%. (See table below.) Looking at the portion of each component’s allocation for new development spending – Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME) – reveals a greater reduction in new development dollars relative to their overall budget.

Some additional observations include:

  • New development (DME) funding totals $286M, a decline of $157M (-35%) from FY 2014. DME makes up about 12% of overall IT investments, continuing the downward trend from FY 2013 (21%) and FY 2014 (18%).
  • Conversely, by calculation, Steady State investments increase by $134M from FY 2014, reaching nearly $2.2B for FY 2015. This operations and maintenance spend accounts for 88% of the department’s IT budget.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) initiatives amount to more than 40% of the DOJ’s IT budget.


Noteworthy IT Programs . . . by the Numbers

Slicing and dicing the details of DOJ’s specific IT investments and initiatives gives even more insight.  Here are just five initiatives that stand out among others due to relative size, budget growth, and/or proportion of new development spending:

  • Unified Financial Management System (UFMS) – This will replace the legacy financial management systems for DEA, ATF, USMS, FBI, BOP OBDs, and OJP to improve financial management and procurement operations across DOJ. The tenth largest overall DOJ IT initiative for FY 2015, the total budget sees a 17% drop from FY 2014. However, UFMS is the one top-ten program with a significant portion of DME at $10M (19%).
  • FBI NCIJTF Lighthouse – NCIJTF is a multi-agency task force for coordinating, integrating, and sharing pertinent information related to cyber threat investigations and Lighthouse is the analytical and investigative environment for NCIJTF work. The investments receives $33M for FY 2015 sees the largest total budget dollar increase (+$23M, +230%) and largest single DME dollar increase for DOJ at +$21M (+~500%). DME spending accounts for 77% of the total program budget.
  • FBI Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) – CODIS enables federal, state, and local forensic laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically to link serial violent crimes to each other and to known offenders. The investment receives the fourth largest total budget increase of +$10M (+81%) for a total of $23M. CODIS also has a large total DME increase of $9.3M to raise the total DME to $10.4M (46%).
  • OJP DOJ Grants Shared Services – Modernization of OJP’s mission critical grants management systems application (aka CPGMS Renovation). The investment receives $9M in funding for FY 2015, up from $0.2M last year, making it one of the main budget winners. Further, the budget is 62% DME money at $5.5M.
  • FBI Data Integration and Visualization System (DIVS) – This initiative makes all FBI intelligence and investigative data discoverable and accessible through a single Information Sharing Environment (ISE). At $58M for FY 2015, DIVS is the third single largest DOJ IT investment and also sees the third largest total budget increase of $10.3M (+22%).

Like we see across so many federal departments and agencies, DOJ’s IT budget is relatively flat at the top-line and there is a slight but consistent shift of funds from DME to O&M. Like many departments, DOJ’s IT budget is dominated by O&M spending, at 88% in FY 2015. The top 10 largest IT initiatives account for 34% of DOJ’s IT budget, but of these 10 only one has a DME portion of more than 5%, the JMD Unified Financial Management System (UFMS) at 19%. That proportion of steady state is not particularly unusual in this fiscal environment and for agencies with many multi-year initiatives underway. (For comparison, DHS’s O&M level is about 85% for FY 2015.)

Where I am seeing the pockets of growth and potential opportunity is in smaller programs that are moving beyond initial phases or are making cyclical investments to broaden their reach, like Grants Shared Services, NCIJTF Lighthouse and others.