The Department of Defense will avoid aggressive increases in IT spending over the next five years, according to its recently released fiscal 2019 information technology and cyberspace activities budget. That seems contrary to the federal government-wide push to redirect funds to cybersecurity and the Pentagon’s acquisition of a commercial cloud system.
The plan provides information such as alignment to cybersecurity, bureaus, and segments about the Pentagon’s IT spending from fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2023.
The fiscal 2019 request is $46.4 billion, with $36.4 billion for unclassified IT, $10 billion for classified, and $8.6 billion for cyberspace activities, which include both defensive cybersecurity and offensive measures. By fiscal 2023, total IT spending slips to $44.2 billion, as DOD expects classified IT spending to increase to $10.2 billion, unclassified spending to drop to $34 billion, and cyberspace activity spending to edge up to $8.9 billion.
The flat budget, about $45 billion annually for the next five years, may signal that the Pentagon expects that retiring legacy systems would bring cost savings for investing in new IT, or that its budget already includes funding each year for starting new programs to incorporate emerging technologies and address threats. Another possibility is that DOD is counting on the funding available through Modernizing Government Technology Act to help complete IT-related objectives at the agency level.
The Army, Air Force, and Defense-wide offices would decrease IT spending from fiscal 2018 through 2023, with all of the reduction in the unclassified budget. The Navy’s IT budget would increase by about $200 million, all in classified spending.
Unclassified cyberspace activities is one area for which the Pentagon plans to spend more money from fiscal 2018 to 2023. The Army, Navy, and Defense-wide budgets include more money for cyber in fiscal 2023 compared with fiscal 2018. According to the March document, the fiscal 2019 cyber request of $8.6 billion, which is about $600 million more than the fiscal 2018 budget request, will provide “the resources, infrastructure and tools for our cyber warriors to operate, defend, and secure information networks and defenses and for offensive operations.”
Missing IT Programs
The Pentagon didn’t align its full unclassified IT budget to programs in its ITDashboard.gov submissions for fiscal 2018 and 2019, making it unclear what each military branch’s total IT budgets would be for those years. The March 2018 DOD IT budget document provides those numbers and the classified budgets for each bureau, in addition to the number of investments each bureau would make in fiscal 2018 and 2019.
Analyzed together, the budgets and investments reveal how many IT programs are missing from ITDashboard.gov and how much those programs are worth.
About 24 percent of the Pentagon’s IT programs haven’t been submitted to ITDashboard.gov. The lack of transparency is consistent with Army, Air Force, and Defense-wide IT programs — they reported 72 percent to 74 percent of their programs to ITDashboard.gov. The Navy, on the other hand, has been slightly more transparent by reporting 85 percent of its IT programs to the site.
DOD doesn’t align about half of its IT budget to programs. Information from the March document helps show that the one quarter of the unreported IT programs account for half of the Pentagon’s unclassified IT budget.
In the Navy, for example, this means that 116 unreported programs have a combined budget of about $3.45 billion for fiscal 2019, an average of $30 million each.
Piecing Together the Budget
Although there are a large number of programs that aren’t reported to ITDashboard.gov, the Pentagon aligned fiscal 2017, 2018, and 2019 budgets to segments to offer additional information about where each bureau is spending its IT money.
The largest segment for the Pentagon and for each bureau is DOD IT infrastructure, which includes data center labor, software, hardware, electricity, facilities, cloud, and other services contracts. The fiscal 2019 DOD IT infrastructure budget is $17.4 billion, or 47 percent of its overall IT budget.
Each bureau has a different arrangement of segments, so clients interested in learning about a specific military branch should consult the IT budget document. Clients can also view the Pentagon’s reported IT programs using Bloomberg Government’s IT Explorer and the cyber budget by bureau using BGOV’s Cyber Budget dashboard. To learn more about the largest programs that DOD will probably fund but hasn’t reported to ITDashboard.gov, view BGOV’s IT webinar here.