Federal IT Spending to Rise

Federal IT spending is likely to rise, but not before January 2009.

Federal IT spending will rise by more than $4 billion over 2008, but with a lame-duck president in an election year, it's unlikely that the fiscal 2009 budget will be passed before the new administration takes office next January.

So requests for hefty budget raises from the departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are likely to fall on deaf ears.

"The issue is not going to be whether or not [the budget] passes, it's going to be whether or not Congress even tries," said John Slye, principal analyst at Input, a research firm specializing in government procurement.

Slye said that politicians and candidates may use the budget process to try to stonewall the current administration and score points with constituents. While he said that it's rare to see a budget request that doesn't increase year over year, the last year of any administration is always difficult, budget-wise.

Presidential hopefuls and a Democratic Congress may try and stall the budget as long as possible so they can try to influence money allocation once they are in office. Stalling the budget process until after the election would allow them greater control over where the money ends up, influencing policy changes and highlighting their priorities.

"No matter who gets elected, a significant change in leadership will force some policy shifts and movement on these fronts," Slye said.

The 2009 budget request calls for a 6.3 percent increase in total IT spending to $70.9 billion, from $66.4 billion in fiscal 2008, with significant technology initiatives planned within the DOD, VA and the DHS.