Obama's $3.8 trillion proposed budget: Parsing the tech priorities

Obama's $3.8 trillion proposed budget: Parsing the tech priorities

Summary: President Obama rolled out his $3.8 trillion proposed fiscal 2011 budget and technology projects abound throughout the Federal government's departments and agencies. We read the budget with technology in mind so you don't have to.


President Obama rolled out his $3.8 trillion proposed fiscal 2011 budget that's teeming with technology projects throughout the Federal government's departments and agencies.

I went through the budget with an information technology lens so you don't have to. Here's a look at the notable technology projects and investments (blog, tables by agency).

Department of Defense: Better health IT infrastructure

The $548.9 billion proposed Department of Defense budget is 3.4 percent higher than the 2010 enacted level. Aside from the usual - weapons systems, prosecuting two wars and cutting high risk contracts - a lot of the budget is focused on medical care for the troops.

According to the budget overview:

This funding increase allows DOD to address its highest priorities, such as the President’s commitment to reform defense acquisition, develop a ballistic missile defense system that addresses modern threats, and continue to provide high quality healthcare to wounded servicemembers.

That last point is going to require an investment in health IT. The DOD budget includes a proposed $30.9 billion for medical care in fiscal 2011, up 5.8 percent from 2010. While the IT spend isn't detailed, the funding provides:

Support for DOD’s efforts to update its health information technology infrastructure, while partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private sector to pursue the Administration’s goal of building a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record to deliver care and benefits to servicemembers and veterans with efficiency and accuracy.

Separately, the Veterans Affairs branch has a proposed $3.3 billion information technology budget, flat with 2010.

Department of Commerce: NIST gets $712 million

In the Department of Commerce budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is proposed to get $712 million. The charge:

This funding will support advanced measurement and standards development at NIST that will facilitate the economy-wide development and adoption of a wide variety of new technologies, ranging from nanotechnology and computer security advances to energy conservation systems. The Budget also provides $80 million for the Technology Innovation Program, which invests in high-impact research that will address critical national needs and advance innovation. The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership will receive $130 million to enhance the competitiveness of the Nation’s manufacturers by facilitating the adoption of more efficient manufacturing processes.

In addition, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will have full access to its fee collections and will use those dollars to improve the speed and quality of patent exams.

National Intelligence Program: Cyber security a focus

Obama's budget doesn't give funding levels for the National Intelligence Program, but does give a nod to cyber security policy. According to the budget:

The 2011 Budget supports actions detailed in the Cyberspace Policy Review and continues activities begun as part of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.

National Science Foundation: Pushing green tech

As part of President Obama's proposed $3.8 trillion budget, the National Science Foundation is getting an 8 percent funding increase with efforts to push along sustainability research and science education.

Overall, the National Science Foundation is projected to have a $7.4 billion budget for fiscal 2011, up 8 percent from 2010. In that sum, there's $766 million for a "cross-agency sustainability research effort focused on renewable energy technologies and complex environmental- and climate-system processes.

In addition, there's a 14 percent increase in funding for building out the science and technology workforce. To that end, the National Science Foundation will dedicate at least 5 percent of its undergrad and graduate fellowship, scholarship and training programs to push students to clean energy careers.

Department of Energy: Big bets

The Department of Energy's proposed $28.4 billion fiscal 2011 budget includes:

  • $300 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy "to accelerate game-changing energy technologies in need of rapid and flexible experimentation or engineering.
  • Support for the modernization of the U.S. electric grid.
  • A 4.6 percent budget increase for the Office of Science to support research on "transformational scientific discoveries."

Department of Health and Human Services: Healthcare meets IT

The proposed $81.3 billion HHS budget includes $110 million for health IT coordination and research. The funding is designed to "to assist providers with adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records."

Department of Homeland Security: Advanced screening technology

The Department of Homeland Security got a proposed $44 billion and there's a $734 million chunk designed to deploy "up to 1,000 new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) screening machines at airport checkpoints and new explosive detection equipment for baggage screening in 2011."

Department of Transportation: New air traffic control system needed

According to Obama's budget, the Department of Transportation is taking the needed for a next-gen air traffic control system more seriously.

From the budget:

The Budget provides $1.14 billion, more than a 30 percent increase from 2010 for the Next Generation Air Transportation System. NextGen is the Federal Aviation Administration’s long-term effort to improve the efficiency, safety, and capacity of the aviation system. The 2011 Budget supports the transformation from a national ground-based radar surveillance system to a more accurate satellite-based surveillance system; the development of more efficient routes through the airspace; and the improvement of aviation weather information.

Department of Treasury: IRS meets customer service

The IRS is getting an $8 billion investment to modernize systems and improve customer service---and oh yeah drive new revenue via better collections. The total Department of Treasury funding for fiscal 2011 is $13.94 billion, up from $13.5 billion in 2010.

First the customer service talk:

The Administration will improve the quality of IRS services to taxpayers, providing for a better tax filing experience. The Budget provides additional resources for high-quality phone service so that taxpayers’ questions are answered quickly and correctly. A top priority of the IRS is to promptly and correctly answer a taxpayer’s question the first time asked, through the most efficient and taxpayer-friendly means.

And then the database improvements:

The Budget supports the IRS’ continued progress in reducing the tax gap through fair, robust, and equal application of the tax laws— including new revenue-generating enforcement initiatives that will increase recovery of tax debts by nearly $2 billion a year once the initiatives are fully mature in 2013. This set of initiatives will be balanced with an increased focus on IRS modernization, for which the Budget makes a significant commitment through nearly $200 million in targeted investments in the IRS’ new core taxpayer database and processing platform. Once complete, this modernized system will improve both the taxpayer experience through, for example, enhanced service capabilities such as more individualized self-service offerings, as well as the IRS’ operational effectiveness.

And then the collection gains:

The Budget will increase collections of delinquent debt owed to the Federal Government, as well as child support payments through States, expand the use of electronic payment and collection transactions, and propose other cross-cutting initiatives that are expected to yield approximately $2 billion in savings over the next 10 years.

NASA: So long Constellation

The biggest news out of NASA is that the Constellation program to get back to the moon was cut. NASA's budget is going up: $19 billion compared to $18.7 billion in 2010. However, NASA is being refocused. The space operations budget was cut to $4.88 billion proposed for fiscal 2011, down from $6.15 billion in 2010.

Meanwhile, funding for science, exploration and aeronautics and space research technology was bumped higher.

Here's the rationale for killing Constellation:

NASA’s Constellation program—based largely on existing technologies - was begun to realize a vision of returning astronauts back to the Moon by 2020. However, the program was over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies. Using a broad range of criteria, an independent review panel determined that even if fully funded, NASA’s program to repeat many of the achievements of the Apollo era, 50 years later, was the least attractive approach to space exploration as compared to potential alternatives. Furthermore, NASA’s attempts to pursue its Moon goals had drawn funding away from other NASA programs, including robotic space exploration, science, and Earth observations.

The realignment of NASA will focus it on R&D for future space missions via a low-cost heavy-lift rocket platform; more robotic missions; help for commercial space transportation; and a phase-out of the Space Shuttle program in an orderly fashion.

Topics: Legal, Banking, CXO, Government, Government US, Health, IT Employment

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  • Government's burden on economy

    ... is not measured by how much it taxes but how much it spends.

    Barrack Chavez Obama is as corrupted as ever like every other socialist in power. It's the private sectors that create jobs not the silly inefficient, agenda-driven big government.
    • Amen

      While if you understand that the private sector
      drives the economy and not the government, you do
      don't need to hear this, AMEN. The only thing the
      federal government does well is provide for the
      national defense and it seems that this is the
      only thing the liberals don't want it to do!
      • Private sector devours small businesses and takes money from government

        while offshoring and underpaying their own.

        What's left to defend while corporations gut this country and getting paid to do it BY the government?

        "Tax cuts create jobs"? WHEN? TELL ME WHEN. Because the answer is "never".
        • "Underpaying" is a lame excuse

          Exactly why should business owners keep jobs here while they can find cheap labor elsewhere? If your business is beaten by competition b/c they able to lower the labor cost then what do you do, sitting there taking it or trying to lower it as well?

          People demand cheap products all the time, which in turn demands cheaper labor cost. That's how market works. Fighting it w/ regulations, tariffs or tax is futile. You want a job then you have to fight for it, proving that you deserve to be paid at that level.

          Tax cuts give business owners more capitals to spend, which doesn't immediately guarantee jobs for everyone. You wanna get hired? Then prove it that you deserve so w/ the right set of skills, and stop whining about underpaying / outsourcing / big corps and all that.
          • Exactly why should business owners keep jobs here

            Exactly why should business owners keep jobs here while they can find cheap labor elsewhere? If your business is beaten by competition b/c they able to lower the labor cost then what do you do, sitting there taking it or trying to lower it as well?

            Because here in America is where business owners make their money off the American people. If a company choose to farm out their company job to foreign countries just to keep a fatter pocket for themselves. Then that company should sell their products to the country of the people they have chosen to do their work. Why bring your products back to America to make money off the people here. I'm just as sure we American can get alone without them.
          • Fair enough

            "Why bring your products back to America to make money off the people here. I'm just as sure we American can get alone without them. "

            They bring products back b/c there's a demand here. That simple. Apparently no everyone decides to get alone w/o them. That's how market works.
          • The Unfair Part

            It's unfair for a business to use cheaper foreign
            labor, then sell in the U.S. without import
          • Consumers will have to cover the tariff then.

            There's no way around it. It's like Detroit have to sell their cars at an expensive price b/c they have to price in the high labor cost associated w/ UAW. They then are beaten by foreign auto makers who don't have the burden.

            Now what do you do? If you put a tariff on it, you let Detroit and UAW off the hook and then force the consumers to subsidize them. That's not how things work.

            Capitalism is basically Darwinism in a social form. It's all about the survival of the fittest. That's how it moves the world forward. You wanna survive, you have to compete and fight for it. Government's role is to enforce some basic rules like fair play, no fraud and that kinda thing. After that it should stay out.
        • Private secotr takes money from government???

          And just where, pray tell, do you think government GETS the money? They take it from US, the taxpayers, you idiot!

          Underpaying their own? Who determines what pay should be? The jobs do not belong to the people, they belong to the companies who reimburse your services for a fee agreed to between you and the company, and this is prior to being hired. Again, it is not YOUR job! It belongs to the company, and you only GET it once the terms are agreed upon between the two entities.

          Tax cuts don't create jobs, you moron. Tax cuts to private companies INCENTIVIZE those companies to HIRE more people.

          My God, man, it is glaringly obvious you were educated in a government school. Your stupidity knows no bounds.
          • LOL - nt

          • The previous government head...

            Gave them 13 trillion dollars in tax cuts his first year in office. Where is all that progress andstimulation fro this good gesture? I'll keep waiting for an answer
          • When you're ideologically blinded,

            you won't notice any good that might have been made by your political enemies.

            The Bush tax cuts did stimulate the economy. The economy did grow for 6 straight years and at the best pace in many decades after those tax cuts. Only somebody blinded by their politics and their ideology would deny it. The tax cuts were needed to bring back the economy that had gone into recession in the last year of Clinton's administration.

            The current problems with the economy mostly stem from the mortgage and financial sector meltdowns. Those problems were building up way before Bush took office and they "bubbled-up" during the Bush years. Sure, Bush and congress did do more spending than traditional republicans of the past, but the current problems are mostly not of his doing.

            BTW, did you notice that the economy started taking a turn for the worse after the democrats took control of congress in 2006? And whatever problems Obama "inherited", he and the current congress are making much worse by spending like money was made of a never-ending supply of sand. Government spending should actually be cut back during recessions, and tax cuts should be enacted so that businesses will have more left over for growing their businesses and hiring people. The democrats and Obama are doing the exact opposite of what's needed to help recover the economy. While it's possible to have the GDP show positive gains during a recession, the long-term effect of bigger government and out-of-control spending is that the economy won't regain the losses from the recession and companies will cut back production and will have to lay off employees. Right now, Obama and the democrats are threatening higher taxes which creates a lot of uncertainty in the private sector; nobody is going to grow businesses or hire people if they are going to have to turn over more of their money to the government.

            The socialist ways of Obama and the democrats have been repeatedly proven to be wrong medicine for any economy; it just sometimes takes a long time before the fools that want it start to realize how dumb the socialist model really is. Even Europe, which underwent an economic transformation in the last 40 years, is beginning to realize their mistakes. Why should the U.S. have to repeat the same idiotic mistakes when the lessons from the past are out there?

            Meanwhile, the people of the U.S. have started to wake up and have realized that Obama was a huge mistake and so were the democrats they voted into office. What about you? When are you going to wake up and start using your head?
          • Excellent Points!

            I think that Bush will be judged less harshly by history than by the present.

            And remember, Congress spends the money - though the POTUS does approve it.

            This shows exactly what you are talking about
          • Dead On

            It' so good to come across people like yourself who have paid attention the last few decades and see the reality of what has and hasnt happened. So many dilusional dems and liberals think if they close thier eyes it will all just get better as Obama spends like a man obsessed with an open check book. What you said is a great summary of what has happened and what is currently happing which will in fact have a giant fall out effect in essence killing the midle class citizen and small busness owners just as Obama is planing leaving our country in a state of socilistic welfare we it doesnt matter how hard you try or dont try you ll get the same as the guy who worked hard made a business went to school and earned what he has . The guy eating cheeseburgers not working with 6 kids will put his hand out and be given the same. Obama and the dems are the scurge of our country and it is as you said about time some have pulled thier heads from thier rectums and begun to see through Obamas cloak and mirro policies to see he is but the anti american in charge.
          • Who did he give $13T in tax cuts to?

            Before you ask me to reply to your question, you must first back up your assertion of that $13T in tax cuts. THEN I'll be happy to give you an answer.
          • Amen

            This person wants an example of when tax cuts create jobs, this easy. JFK and Reagan. There are several reasons behind unemployment besides a bad product. Higher taxes mean less capital to hire and invest. The out of control minimum wage means less money to hire more people. Minimum wage jobs were never meant to be permanent positions; it is assumed those hired at that wage will work and be productive to make more money. This is basic economics 101. Some one needs to read Dr. Thomas Sowell: http://tsowell.com/
        • Corporation collapse the economy?

          Drink some more kool-aid and tell me another fairy tale
      • I wonder why we are in the shape we are in...

        Since the free economy has had free range for the last eight years. Yet we got broken economy, almost terminal, and unemployment out the yahoo. Nice going free market!
        • Read my post above...

        • Bush years != free economy

          Free economy will never lower the interest rate to get everyone drunk over a housing bubble and then bail all loser banks out w/ tax payers' money. Bush and Greenspan only talked about free market but never ran like one.