Congress lowers funding for intelligence, cybersecurity

The House and Senate showed a reluctance to fully fund the White House's budget request for Homeland Security Department's work on intelligence and infrastructure protection in legislation that would fund the department for fiscal 2004.

"The committee is aware of the recent and rapid stand-up of the information analysis and infrastructure protection directorate and the challenges that have been presented in this endeavor," the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee noted in its report on the bill, H.R. 2555. "However, the committee is concerned with the lack of justification for increased funding ... and the inability of the department to provide sufficient detail to date on each program, project and activity." The panel requested that justification.

The directorate would receive $776 million under the House version of the bill, and $823.7 million under the Senate's version. The White House requested $829 million. It would use the money to collect and disseminate information on terrorist threats, integrate data with foreign intelligence agencies, and develop and implement a plan against terrorist threats and national vulnerabilities, according to the Senate committee.

The Senate approved $98.5 million to monitor and coordinate work on cyber-security infrastructure, including the creation of a national cyber-security division. Some $33 million would be available for advisories, and $66 million would go for cybersecurity from funds available for remediation and protective actions.

The committee said it expects the directorate's undersecretary to coordinate with the head of the department's science and technology directorate to protect "critical cyber assets."

The Senate also offered $294 million to guide the development of protective measures for critical infrastructure and $155 million for the National Communications System to expand telecommunications capabilities for national security and emergency preparedness.

The House would provide $20 million for a 24-hour center that monitors activity worldwide that could impact homeland security. Funding for the center is divided between the information analysis directorate and the chief information officer (CIO), who would get $81 million overall.

The House committee also directed the CIO to evaluate the department's encryption programs for possible expansion.

Funding for key officers varies widely in the two versions of the legislation. The special assistant to the secretary for the private sector would get $4.1 million from the Senate and $3.8 million from the House; the office for civil rights and civil liberties would get $14.5 million from the Senate versus $12 million from the House; and the privacy officer and Homeland Security Advisory Committee each would get $675,000 from the Senate and $767,000 from the House.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would receive $13.6 million for intelligence. The Senate also would provide a budget increase of $2.6 million and 22 positions to increase intelligence staffing.

The investigative and intelligence needs of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement are expected to be funded at no less than $25 million from fees collected from immigration examinations, according to the committee report.

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