Defense IT programs see large funding increases

Congress, in the final version of the 2008 Defense Department Appropriations bill signed by President Bush on Nov. 13, heaped large funding increases onto Defense information technology programs.

One of the biggest winners was the Army's next-generation Single Army Logistics Enterprise system, which Congress funded at $247.2 million for fiscal 2008, almost quadruple Bush's request of $53.6 million.

Funding for the Army's advanced logistics system will allow the service to link national, enterprise-level and tactical logistics information, according to an Army background paper. The system includes the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-A), designed to consolidate 14 tactical logistics systems into one; the Logistics Modernization Program, which provides enterprise-level visibility into $4.5 billion worth of supply inventory; and a product life cycle management system, which links tactical and enterprise systems.

The GCSS-A also made out particularly well in the final budget. Congress gave it close to a 100 percent increase, from the $59.7 million allocated by the Senate to $94.7 million.

The 2008 Defense bill comes close to doubling the budget request for a key Army battlefield command- and- control program designed to provide information on the positions of friendly and enemy forces. The bill boosted funding for the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below system from the $176 million that the administration requested to $324.2 million.

The 2008 Defense budget also more than doubled the Marine Corps request for tactical radio systems -- from the requested $61.2 million to $158.7 million. Congress also provided a funding line of $102.7 million for Marine communications switching and control systems, more than four times the $27 million requested.

The Air Force had a modest increase in its budget line for base communications infrastructure, with Congress increasing the budget to $128.7 million from the requested $115.6 million, and it included a slight boost in its general IT budget to $118.9 million from $113.3 million.

Congress also added $125 million to the Air Force to buy a fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency Milstar satellite, which provides secure, low-data rate and voice communications to deployed forces. Language in the 2008 Defense bill encouraged the Air Force to fully fund the fourth AEHF satellite in fiscal 2009 and encouraged the service to include a fifth satellite in a follow-on contract.

Not all Defense IT programs made out so well. Congress shaved the budget for the Bridge to Future Networks, an Army battlefield communications program designed to field tactical Internet systems, to $430 million from the administration's request of $433.5 million.

The final budget for total Navy communications and electronics equipment funding of $1.8 billion matched the administration request. Included in the budget is $301.9 million for shipboard communications automation, unchanged from the requested amount.

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