Technology is a cornerstone of the 2004 Homeland Security budget

Technology is a top priority of the 2004 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget. Electronics will play a major role for the new department, especially in sensors for biometrics, explosives detection, integrated communications, and information security.

By John McHale

WASHINGTON — Technology is a top priority of the 2004 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget. Electronics will play a major role for the new department, especially in sensors for biometrics, explosives detection, integrated communications, and information security.

The DHS budget proposal for the 2004 federal fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, calls for $41.3 billion to support domestic anti-terrorism efforts, says DHS Secretary Tom Ridge. That figure includes homeland security projects in the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Energy, and other agencies, Ridge says.

The proposed 2004 budget for DHS itself is $36.2 billion, which represents an increase of 7.4 percent over homeland security spending this year, Ridge says. The department's budget request is subject to approval from Congress.

The creation of the DHS's Science and Technology directorate is the highlight of the 2004 technology budget. DHS officials want $803 million to develop partnerships with private business to develop homeland security technologies — an eight-fold increase over 2002.

The Science and Technology Directorate's Advanced Research Project Agency would direct $350 million to address gaps in high-priority operational areas like protecting critical infrastructure and the nation's borders.

Ridge says he does not expect the Advanced Research Project Agency to compete with the one under the Defense Department, DARPA. Ridge says the DHS research arm will "do an inventory as best we can both within government and outside of government" to avoid replication with DARPA.

Under the department's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) budget request, $65 million would go for research on how to improve screening technology, and methods of detecting chemical, biological, or similar threats and devices endangering aircraft and passengers.

The TSA budget also includes $30 million to develop methods and systems for screening air cargo. Another $45 million would improve the computer-assisted air passenger screening system that identifies passengers that may pose a security risk, as well as for additional screening technologies.

The requested U.S. Coast Guard budget is 10 percent more than last year. The Coast Guard will work within the Border and Transportation Security Directorate in DHS.

The budget includes $500 million to continue the "Deepwater" program, which is upgrading the Coast Guard's fleet of cutters, aircraft, and related systems to improve performance and integrate the Coast Guard's activities with other DHS components.

Included in this is funding for the National Security Cutter, to be completed in 2006. This vessel, which could be nearly the size of a U.S. Navy Spruance-class destroyer, is to replace or augment the Coast Guard's fleet of high-endurance cutters for long-range open-ocean operations.

The Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) $17-billion-contract was awarded to Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

DHS is requesting more than $307 million under customs and border protection for the Automated Commercial Environment system (ACE) and $11.2 million for the International Trade Data System (ITDS) to improve collection and dissemination of international trade data.

The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection budget would support the DHS's ability to analyze and identify potential threats, assess vulnerabilities, map those threats to vulnerabilities, and provide the information from which to organize protective measures. $829 million would pay for this initiative — an increase of $652 million over the 2003 level.

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