Bush Requests 7 Percent Increase for Homeland Defense Spending

President George W. Bush's FY 2006 budget request includes $41.1 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, an increase of 7 percent over the enacted FY 2005 funding, excluding Project BioShield.

At a press briefing about the budget, Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), commented, "We're funding our efforts to defend the homeland from attack. We're transforming our military and supporting our troops as they fight and win the global war on terror. We're helping to spread freedom throughout the world."

This year's budget request includes several key initiatives that will allow DHS to integrate and consolidate existing security functions. Two divisions of the department received significant increases in the budget. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was given a 13.5 percent increase and the U.S. Coast Guard will receive increase of more than 9 percent if Congress approves the budget.

The budget includes the establishment of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). The DNDO will develop, acquire and support the deployment and improvement of a domestic system to detect and report attempts to import, assemble or transport a nuclear explosive device, fissile material or radiological material intended for illicit use. The DNDO will be located within DHS and will be jointly staffed with representatives from DHS, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with coordination between the Department of Justice, Department of State, intelligence community and other departments as needed.

The budget proposes to consolidate the various DHS screening activities with the formation of the Office of Screening Coordination and Operations (SCO) within the Border and Transportation Security (BTS) directorate. This new organization would enhance terrorist-related screening through comprehensive, coordinated procedures that detect, identify and track people, cargo and other entities and objects that pose a threat to homeland security. This effort to integrate existing resources to work more efficiently, brings together several similar ongoing screening efforts under one office, including: United States-Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT); Secure Flight and Crew Vetting; Free and Secure Trade (FAST); NEXUS/Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI); Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC); Registered Traveler; Hazardous Materials Trucker Background Checks; and Alien Flight School Checks.

Over $2 billion is earmarked for grants for states and urban areas. The grants would be based on assessments of risk and vulnerability, as well as the needs and priorities identified in state and regional homeland security plans. The proposed Targeted Infrastructure Protection program would provide $600 million in integrated grants, enabling DHS to supplement state, local and regional government efforts in their protection of critical national infrastructures such as seaports, mass transit, railways, and energy facilities.

The budget includes a request for $49.9 million to begin to establish a regional structure for DHS and integrate and identify efficiencies within information technology, facilities and operations centers across DHS. Of the 22 agencies that were brought together to form the department, 12 have regional and field structures ranging in size from three to 30 offices distributed throughout the nation.

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