DHS FY 2015 IT Budget Request Snapshot

Published: March 12, 2014


Last week the White House released its fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request and we looked at the high points of the top ten departments. This week I want to look a focus on bit more closely at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and specifically its proposed information technology (IT) budget.

The submission of the federal fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request to Congress provided an opportunity for some broad observations, data points, opinions, and analysis as we tried to get an immediate sense of direction and priority across the various areas of government. Digging specifically into the DHS IT budget gives a sense of where the dollars are directed to flow in the next year and what are the highest priorities.

DHS IT and New Development Budgets

For starters, a basic slice of the DHS IT budget identifies how the department is allocating its $5.8B in proposed budget across the directorates. Their overall IT budget is essentially flat from the FY 2014 level, which had received a $470M increase (+9%) over FY 2013 in the midst of budget turmoil and sequestration concerns. So as we often say around GovWin FIA, flat is the new up.

The year-over-year changes for the various directorates and agencies are fairly diverse, ranging from -40% to +15%. (See table below.) Further, looking at the portion of each agency’s allocation for new development spending, known as Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME), also has a wide variety in change from 2014 to 2015. Note that growth or decline in agency total IT budget does not always correspond to the same in DME spending, e.g. the TSA, ICE, and the central DHS IT budget.  In the case of FEMA, a 4.3% overall increase comes with a 37% increase in DME.


Noteworthy IT Programs . . . by the Numbers

Looking at the details of DHS’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.

  • ICE - IT Infrastructure – IT Infrastructure is comprised of 10 sub-programs with multiple systems that serve to enhance ICE's technology foundation, maximize workforce productivity, secure the IT environment, and improve information sharing across ICE & DHS. At $234M for FY 2015, this program is the fourth largest IT initiative in the DHS IT budget and receives a boost of $44M (+23%). All spending is classified as O&M.
  • CBP - Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) – ACE is a Web-based portal that will consolidate seven systems into a single window to execute all stages of the import/export trade cycles for CBP, PGA, and the Trade.  It includes account management, revenue management, and enforcement. ACE is in the top ten largest IT initiatives for DHS at $141M and receives the third largest increase in DME spending for FY 2015 of +$26M to bring the overall DME budget to $46M, a full 33% of the total budget for next fiscal year.
  • NPPD - Next Generation Networks Priority Services (NGN-PS) – The NGN Priority Services program is to transition Priority Telecommunication Services from circuit-switched technologies to Internet Protocol packet-switched technologies and to examine the prioritization of other packet-based communication technologies. NGN-PS is slated to receive nearly $70M for FY 2015 with an increase of $48M, 100% of which is designated as DME. This makes it the DHS initiative to receive both the largest budget increase as well as the largest DME increase over FY 2014.
  • CBP - Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) – The RVSS systems consist of day night cameras attached to fixed towers which allow the Border Patrol to monitor border activity through video transmissions to a control room. This investment is targeted to receive a$30M (+173%) budget increase to $48M for FY 2015. DME of $49M represents 93% of the program’s budget.
  • USCIS - Transformation          – USCIS has embarked on an enterprise-wide Transformation Investment that is transitioning the Agency from a fragmented, paper-based environment to a paperless, centralized environment, utilizing electronic processing for adjudication. At $177M the initiative is another of the DHS “top ten” IT investments for FY 2015 and although it receives a nominal budget increase of about $1M from FY 2014 it is among the highest percentage DME among the top ten programs at 83%.

After seeing a total IT budget growth from $5.3B to $5.8B (+9%) from FY 2013 to FY 2014, the DHS IT budget for FY 2015 has settled in for another year at $5.8B. Further, overall DME spending for FY 2015 is down 6.5% from the previous year, suggesting competition for new work may tighten for several key programs as more work shifts to O&M efforts.