President's proposed 2010 budget shows DHS priorities

Published 27 February 2009

Proposed budget increase DHS budget by 6 percent; priorities include cyber security, helping TSA screen travelers, increase bomb disposal and counter-IED capabilities, border security, emergency response

President Barack Obama’s proposed 2010 budget, submitted to Congress yesterday, outlined his homeland security and intelligence priorities for the next year. DHS will receive $42.7 billion in discretionary spending for 2010, a 6 percent increase over 2009. AP reports that the increase may be only 1.2 percent after Congress completes appropriations for 2009.

Security Management Matthew Harwood writes that cybersecurity features prominently in both budgetary areas (note that the details of the intelligence budget are classified), with the document noting, “”The threat to Federal information technology networks is real, serious, and growing.” According to the homeland security portion of the document, $355 million will go to help the private and public sectors create more resilient cyberinfrastructures, while $36 million will aid research and development into technologies to help prevent and detect biological threats.

The administration will not disclose how much money the intelligence program is allocated, it states its cybersecurity efforts will revolve around addressing present threats and anticipating future threats, all the while fostering more public-private partnerships to keep information networks secure.

The president’s budget for homeland security is more accessible. The government will spend $50 million to provide 15 new Visual Intermodal Protection Response Teams at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for unannounced visits at transportation hubs across the country. The budget will also provide $65 million to modernize how the government screens travelers and workers. More money will add 55 specialized bomb officers trained to recognize explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The administration says it will offset the cost of these new spending projects by increasing airline passenger security fees starting in 2012.

The president’s budget blueprint also highlights border security. The budget provides $368 million to keep 20,000 border patrol agents watching over 6,000 miles of U.S. borders. It sets aside $1.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure that illegal aliens who commit crimes get removed from the country promptly. The budget also commits $110 million to the E-Verify program, which distinguishes between workers legally able to work in the United States and those who are not.

The document assures states that their homeland security activities remain a top priority for the Obama administration. The funds will go to support first responders and create better emergency response plans while helping states improve their medical surge capacity by stockpiling necessary supplies.

Other funding priorities for the National Intelligence Program include implementing a government-wide counterterrorism action plan, improving intelligence sharing across all layers of the government as well as with foreign partners, and boosting the collection and analysis capabilities of U.S. intelligence agencies.