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5 Charts that Show Where the Federal IT Budget is Headed Next Year

Andy Dean Photography/

Most federal agencies will see boosts in IT spending under President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget proposal, and the overall amount spent on computers, software, mobile devices and tech personnel across the federal government is set to top nearly $90 billion for the first time.

Of the 25 largest civilian agencies, 19 are due for an increase, according to an agency-by-agency breakdown of federal IT spending recently posted online by the Office of Management and Budget.

The following five charts track the growth in agencies’ IT spending based on the fiscal 2017 budget request, agencies’ congressional budget justifications and OMB’s agency-by-agency guide.

After years of a flat and even declining federal IT budget, total federal IT spending is now approaching $90 billion. Agencies’ tech spending is on track to hit $88.7 billion this year, and the fiscal 2017 budget calls for for a 1.28 percent uptick to $89.9 billion.

That includes about $51 billion for civilian agency spending and about $38 billion for Defense Department IT spending.

Despite the recent growth, IT spending of late has been only on a slow crawl upward. Since 2009, IT spending has inched up an average of only about 1.8 percent annually -- far below the average 7.1 percent annual growth during the Bush administration.

In addition to the overall uptick, some agencies will see even larger spending boosts. The biggest increase to an agency IT spending -- as a percentage of overall spending -- is slated for the National Science Foundation. Among the 25 largest federal agencies, NSF has the smallest IT budget. So a $21 million increase -- as proposed in the fiscal 2017 budget -- is a sizable infusion of new cash for the agency.

“Primary drivers” of the budget increase are new investments to support the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, moving to electronic invoicing and increased security, according to budget documents released by the agency.

The Social Security Administration is also requesting a hefty increase in IT spending. The $268 million in additional funding -- an 18 percent funding bump -- is slated, in part, to help modernize aging database systems at the agency, some of which date back to the 1970s, according to Social Security’s budget justification.

“For several years, we worked to modernize our IT in small pieces at a time, but we have exhausted nearly all of these small efforts,” the budget docs state. “We are now at a point where we must undertake a larger, multiyear effort.”

Some agencies, though, will see their IT budgets pared back. The Department of Veterans Affairs, with an IT budget of about 4.3 billion, will stay mostly flat. The proposed $2.27 billion for the Commerce Department’s IT spending next year is a 2 percent cut from current levels.

But the biggest cut of all comes at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s IT spending request is set to decline from $342 million to $288 million. But that decrease is mostly attributable to the agency requesting less in carry-over funding.

In addition, HUD has been able to realize savings by scaling back scope and service levels on existing contracts as the agency prepares to transition most of its IT infrastructure to a federal shared service provider, according to the agency’s budget justification.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the top 10 civilian agencies with the biggest proposed IT budgets.

(Image via /

By Jack Moore March 8, 2016


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