US President George Bush has request for $65.5 billion (£33.2bn) in IT spending across federal agencies to spend as part of his 2008 budget.
The request reflects his priorities to cut budget deficits while improving cybersecurity and enhancing e-government services to US citizens, Bush advisors said Wednesday.
"It's clearly demonstrated by our actions in this past year that the [cybersecurity] plans we've had in place aren't necessarily working," said Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and information technology in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). "It's important for us...that we have the trust of the American people that we'll protect their information."
The US government this year will focus heavily on IT security after reports of data breaches in 2006. The White House, working with federal auditors and Congress, will lean on agencies to improve cybersecurity using their existing resources, Evans said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in May reported a laptop and hard drive containing the personal information of 26.5 million military veterans and their families stolen from an employee's home. Police later recovered the hardware, but the announcement set off a storm of criticism from Congress.
The lost VA equipment prompted a congressional review of other government agencies, and they reported thousands of laptops missing in the last five years.
OMB will encourage some smaller agencies to contract with larger ones for network access and security, Evans said. OMB will also ask many agencies to focus on internal problems that lead to lost data, not just on external threats, she said. Some agencies are spending a disproportionate amount on fighting external threats, when the majority of cybersecurity problems are internal, she said.
Bush's 2008 budget includes a 2.6% spending increase for IT, compared to his 2007 budget request. Of the $65.5 billion, $31.4bn would go to the US Department of Defence, $5.6bn to Department of Health and Human Services, and $4.1bn to the Department of Homeland Security.
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