Civilian IT Spending Outlook

By Greg Waring   •

The FY19 IT Dashboard reports individual department and agency IT portfolio spending for the President’s Budget, estimated FY18 spending levels (based on the current year CR), and actual FY17 spending. OMB required agencies to submit this data in mid-January, weeks before the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA18) increased spending limits for FY18 and FY19. The Administration’s current CR-based FY18 estimate is 1.3 percent higher than FY17. For unclassified IT funding at civilian agencies, the President’s FY19 budget includes almost $46.5 billion, a 3.1 percent increase over estimated FY18 CR levels.

The President’s initial FY19 funding plan includes significant IT spending increases for Commerce (14.5%), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (13.5%), and the National Archives (12.6%). The Commerce IT spending increase is driven by 2020 Census ramp-up costs, the Census Bureau’s HR system (C-SHARPS) and its information dissemination service (CEDSCI). The President’s plan also includes increases in the next-generation application development (TMNG-3), patent case and appeal tracking, and the patent application lifecycle management replacement at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Enactment of BBA18 makes the Administration’s current FY18 IT spending estimates the floor on likely IT spending. Last March, President Trump’s FY18 “Skinny Budget” included a less than a 1 percent civilian agency IT spending reduction in a spending plan that cut civilian agency budgets $54 billion below a sequester. Ten months later, the Administration estimates that FY18 civilian agency IT spending will exceed

FY17 totals by almost $600 million. With more FY18 money available for agencies and budget and policy guidance directing agencies to modernize and secure IT infrastructure, civilian agency IT spending should increase significantly in the second half of FY18.

This week, OMB provided Congress a list of recommended additions to their initial FY18 Budget. The following funding increases highlight technology refreshes and IT modernization.

  • DHS Customs and Border Protection, Border Security Enforcement, Operations and Support: $237 million for additional equipment purchases “including a technology refresh for border security assets.”
  • DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mega Center, Operations and Support: $70 million to support a new ICE analysis and audit facility, including “hiring up to 285 new analysts and agents at ICE, which will entail future costs for general salaries and expenses.”
  • HHS, Indian Health Service: $600 million to eliminate a proposed FY18 funding cut and provide “one-time, no year funding for information technology modernization activities.”
  • Rail Road Retirement Board, IT Modernization: $40 million to implement a multi-year modernization of RRB systems from COBOL.
  • Social Security Administration, IT Modernization: $280 million to transition SSA systems from COBOL. “SSA will use modular construction and agile development methods, so their systems can share common elements, making development of their software faster and more responsive.”

These OMB-recommended FY18 additions, the IT Dashboard and the FY19 Budget addendum are clear evidence that OMB has already raised the floor on civilian agency IT spending for FY18 and FY19.