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Bush's tech budget favors Homeland Security Dept.

If Congress approves proposal, agency spending would jump 21 percent--and funding for NASA, education would shrink.

The Department of Homeland Security would receive the biggest boost in technology spending among top-level federal departments under the president's $2.8 trillion budget proposal for 2007.

If Congress ultimately approves the president's request, which he made public earlier this month, the department's slice of the information technology allotment would jump more than 21 percent, to about $4.4 billion. According to a report released Thursday morning by government research firm Input, the additional $772 million proposed for the agency represents nearly half of the overall new IT spending proposed for next year.

The total federal IT budget proposed for government agencies rose by less than 3 percent, to about $64.3 billion for 2007. Spending related to IT security would compose about $5.2 billion of that total.

The Defense Department's allotment remains by far the highest, at some $30.5 billion, though that number represents only about a 3 percent increase from last year. After the Homeland Security Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development would see the second-largest percentage increase in IT spending, at about 15 percent. But at $298 million, its overall share of IT spending would remain only a fraction of the allotments for nearly every other cabinet-level department.

Still, the wide-ranging budget drew praise from the Information Technology Association of America lobbying group. "Today, it makes perfect sense to focus all kinds of investments on defense and homeland security, but we are also pleased to see (that) the president did not leave out crucial civilian IT investments," ITAA President Robert Laurence said in a statement.

But not everyone was so pleased. Five of the 27 agencies included in the budget proposal would experience cuts. They ranged from about 1 percent for the Department of Education to more than 5 percent for NASA.

Congressional Democrats decried several of the tech-related cuts in their latest budget analysis (click for PDF), expressing concern that the elimination of certain technology education programs would undermine America's competitiveness in science in technology.

"The elimination of this funding--which allows all children access to technology and the Internet, helps train teachers how to use and integrate technology into the curriculum, and provides funding and support for core curricular content--runs completely counter to the goals and vision outlined by the president," said Sheryl Abshire, who heads the Consortium for Education Technology, an advocacy group.

Overall, the multitrillion-dollar budget includes a record-high $439.3 billion proposal for defense-related spending and calls for $65 billion in cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare over the next five years.