Department of Homeland Security FY 2021 Budget Request Observations

Published: March 12, 2020

BudgetDHSInformation Technology

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted a nearly $50 billion FY 2021 discretionary budget, with $7.3 billion for information technology.

In February the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ranking among the highest-funded civilian departments.

Total Discretionary Funding and Priorities

The proposed FY 2021 budget provides $49.8B in total discretionary budget for DHS, a 3.1% increase from the FY 2020 enacted level. This includes funding for the U.S. Secret Service which the White House proposes to transfer to the Department of the Treasury.

Funding highlights include:

  • Provides an additional $5.1B in FEMA disaster relief funding.
  • Requests $2B for construction of 82 additional miles of border wall in southwestern U.S.
  • Includes $1.6B to continue to modernize U.S. Coast Guard vessels and aircraft for coastal patrol and rescue operations.
  • Allocates $8.2B to support TSA employees and technology, including $29M for 30 new airport screening terminals.
  • Provides $724.8M to hire and equip over 5,800 CBP and ICE law enforcement officers and support personnel.
  • Provides $80M in new funding for the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) program across directorates.
  • Requests $28M to construct 30 additional Autonomous Surveillance Towers for CBP border security.

DHS Information Technology Budget

The FY 2021 IT budget request for DHS is $7.3B allocated across its numerous directorates, which is $40M (-0.5%) below the FY 2020 enacted level. This does not include spending on programs categorized as “National Security Systems,” which OMB began excluding from their IT budget data since the FY 2019 budget request.

Within this total $7.3B the new budget request allocates nearly $700MB – just under 10% of the total IT budget – to new Development/Modernization/Enhancement (DME) spending, which is nearly 30% less than for FY 2020. (See table below.)

Noteworthy IT Programs

Delving into the details of DHS’s IT budget published on OMB’s IT Dashboard gives deeper insight into their investments, initiatives and priorities. Here are the five largest initiatives across DHS for FY 2021 including observations about budget growth and their proportion of new development spending.

  • National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS): Provides a wide range of cyber security capabilities for .gov networks such as intrusion detection and prevention; advanced cyber analytics and visualization; incident management; and information sharing. At $352M for FY 2021, NCPS $53M (-13%) less than the FY 2020 enacted level. The investment consists of 26% Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME) funding.
  • Manage Information Technology: This investment accounts for the CIO staff across the DHS that is not associated with any specific IT Investment. This investment receives $267M for FY 2021, nearly $37M (+16%) above FY 2020. The entire investment is designated as 100% Operations and Maintenance (O&M).
  • Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM): CDM provides continuous monitoring, diagnosis, and mitigation capabilities to strengthen the security posture of the federal civilian networks. The $249M requested for this investment is almost $17M (+7%) above the FY 2020 enacted budget level and consists of 58% DME funding.
  • CBP - Data Center and Cloud: The Data Center and Cloud investment provides data center, compute and storage functions for CBP, including physical location, hardware, software licensing support, access to virtual machines, and cloud support. Set to receive $215M for FY 2021, $51M above FY 2020, this investment is 100% Operations and Maintenance (O&M).
  • CBP - End User: The CBP End User Standard Investment supports the computers, software, computer peripherals, and the associated technical support required to carry out CBP's mission. For FY 2021 this program receives $189M, including a $780K increase from FY 2020. This investment is 100% Operations and Maintenance (O&M).

DHS component IT budgets are mix of winners and losers for FY 2021. DHS-wide IT and ICE see 23% and 11% IT budget growth respectively and TSA and USCG see 4% growth, while most others see declines. It is also noticeable that DHS’s four largest components are showing decreasing IT budgets for FY 2021. In fact, CBP, CIS and CISA have shown consistently decreasing IT budgets from FY 2019 to FY 2021. That could indicate success at achieving efficiencies that may drive greater competitiveness for contracts at those agencies.