Defense Information Systems Agency seeks big budget boost

The need for more telecommunications and computer networks to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused the Defense Information Systems Agency to request a sharp increase in its fiscal 2009 operations and maintenance budget.

DISA's fiscal 2009 operations and maintenance budget request tops $1.2 billion, a 30 percent increase over its fiscal 2008 budget of $944.6 million. The agency also asked for a 24 percent increase in its procurement budget, to $361.1 million from $290.2 million in fiscal 2008.

John Slye, an analyst for INPUT, a consulting firm in Reston, Va., that specializes in the federal market, said he was surprised by the sharp rise in DISA's 2009 budget request but said it reflects the increased demand for telecommunications and networks to support the wars overseas andto defend those networks against attack.

DISA has asked for $316.6 million for its information systems security program, which represents about one-quarter of its overall budget and a 37 percent increase over the $247.7 million in fiscal 2008. The agency has budgeted $54.9 million for information systems security procurement in 2009, a 32 percent jump from the fiscal 2008 budget of $41.8 million.

DISA said the increased funding will cover fielding additional demilitarized zones, which firewall the networks from the Internet, on the Defense Department's nonclassified Internet, deploy additional firewalls to add access control mechanisms on the Secret Internet, beef up analysis of network probes and attacks and improve information assurance assessments and training. The agency will use procurement funds to buy and field 115 bulk encryptors in 2009 and to acquire and field network sensors to detect probes and cyberattacks.

Bernie Skoch, a consultant with Suss Consulting in Jenkintown, Pa., and a former top DISA official, attributed much of the agency's budget increase to the expansion of its cybersecurity programs and functions it cannot mange in-house. The size of the information security budget, Skoch said, shows the agency is engaged in proactive efforts to protect defense networks against attack rather than reacting to attacks or probes.

DISA's biggest line-item percentage increase is for its transition to a network-centric environment based on services such as search, collaboration and instant messaging. The agency is asking Congress for $170.9 million in fiscal 2009 to fund the transition, almost double the estimated $88.3 million in fiscal 2008. The budget line also includes technology demonstration projects and engineering services.

The Net-Centric Enterprise Services portion of the budget will more than double to $89.9 million in fiscal 2009 from an estimated $26.6 million in fiscal 2008, if Congress approves DISA's request. And the NCES procurement account will more than triple to $36.8 million in fiscal 2009 from $10.8 million in fiscal 2008. IBM and Carahsoft hold the NCES contracts and provide software as a service to Defense Department users.

DISA asked for a marginal increase, by comparison, for the Defense Information Systems Network, the primary network used by Defense worldwide. DISA asked for $107.1 million for fiscal 2009, up from $102.6 million in fiscal 2008, to transition 1,500 circuits in the continental United States from old contracts to its new 10-year DISN Access Transport Services contract.

The DISN budget line also funds purchase of commercial satellite services, which provide 80 percent of the satellite connectivity required by Defense end users. The remaining 20 percent is supplied by military satellites, according to an internal DISA publication. DISA requested a $33 million, or 54 percent, increase in the DISN procurement budget to $90.3 million in fiscal 2009.

Slye forecasted in January that spending on federal networks would increase at a 4.9 percent rate over the next five years. But he revised that forecast for Defense networks and said the DISA budget could increase 10 percent to 20 percent over the next few years due to demands of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the need for network security, and the Defensewide embrace of NCES tools and services.

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