Department of Homeland Security FY 2020 IT Budget Observations

Published: April 11, 2019

Federal Market AnalysisBudgetDHSInformation Technology

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has submitted a $7.1 billion information technology budget for fiscal year (FY) 2020.

Several weeks ago the White House released its full fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request and DHS continues to be allotted one of the largest information technology (IT) budgets among all federal departments, especially among the civilian departments where DHS ranks first for FY 2020.

DHS Information Technology Budget

The FY 2020 IT budget request for DHS is $7.071B allocated across its numerous directorates, which is just $51M (+0.7%) above the FY 2019 enacted level of $7.020B.

Within this total $7.01B the new budget request allocates nearly $3.7B – just over half of the total budget – to IT investments focused on Mission Delivery systems and Administrative Support systems (MDAS). What is new for FY 2020 is what the Office of Management and Budget did not include in the publicly-released budget data.

In the FY 2020 budget request, OMB excluded from public release investments categorized as “IT Investments for Infrastructure, Security and Management” which impacts a significant portion of an agency’s IT programs. This kind of data masking began last year with the FY 2019 budget request when OMB began excluding programs categorized as “National Security Systems” from the IT budget release. That removed about $17B worth of investment-level detail from the government-wide FY 2019 IT portfolio summary. It is unclear whether this decreasing transparency is temporary.

As a means of estimating the DHS agency and directorate IT budgets related Infrastructure, Security and Management I simply subtracted the agency budgets for MDAS from their total IT budgets. Admittedly, it is a crude approach, but it provides a more granular perspective into what these agencies may be spending initiatives categorized into these areas. (See table below.)

Noteworthy IT Programs

Exploring the details of DHS’s IT investments and initiatives focused on Mission Delivery and their Administrative Support systems gives deeper insight into their priorities. Generally speaking, Mission Delivery accounts for about 85% of the dollars in the MDAS grouping presented above, which makes sense given that the agencies are using these IT systems to achieve mission priorities. Here are the five largest initiatives across DHS for FY 2020 including observations about budget growth and their proportion of new development spending.

  • CBP - Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Systems: NII technologies support the detection and prevention of contraband from entering the U.S., while having a minimal impact on the flow of legitimate commerce. At $192M for FY 2020, NII receives $26M (+16%) more than the FY 2019 enacted level. The investment consists of 37% Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME) funding.
  • CISA - Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART): HART provides enduring identity services by producing accurate, timely and high assurance biometric identity information and analysis. This investment received $20M in FY 2019 as a new budget line and is slated to receive $185M (+824%) in FY 2020. The entire investment is designated as 100% Operations and Maintenance (O&M).
  • USCIS - Verification Modernization (VER): The Verification Information System (VIS) is the single source of eligibility verification for those seeking employment authorization or access to certain benefits in the US. The $172M requested for this investment is $2.4M (+1%) above the FY 2019 enacted budget level and consists of 4% DME funding.
  • USCIS - Transformation: This enterprise-wide investment is transitioning USCIS from a fragmented, paper-based operational environment to a consolidated environment that allows electronic processing of benefit requests. The $131M requested for FY 2020 would be a $36M (-21%) reduction from FY 2019, yet 46% of the FY 2020 budget is for DME work.
  • CBP - Automated Targeting System (ATS) Maintenance: The Automated Targeting System (ATS) is a web-based enforcement tool that helps Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors and import specialists focus on inbound and outbound cargo shipments and passengers that most warrant their attention. At $118M and 0% DME for FY 2020, ATS’s budget continues to be flat from FY 2019.

Notable omissions from public release include CBP’s Infrastructure program, the CISA’s (formerly NPPD) National Cybersecurity & Protection System (NCPS) and the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM), which have consistently been among some of the largest IT budget lines over the last several years, but clearly fall under the IT Infrastructure, Security and Management part of the IT Portfolio than is no longer being made public by OMB.

It is also noticeable that most of DHS’s largest agencies, other than CBP, are showing decreasing IT budgets for FY 2020. That could indicate greater competitive pressure for future IT contracts at those agencies.