House cuts funds from war supplemental bill

The House Appropriations Committee cut funding for defense communications and information systems programs it deemed unrelated to the war on terrorism.

The House Appropriations Committee cut funding for defense communications and information systems programs it deemed unrelated to the war on terrorism in its version of the 2007 War Supplemental Appropriations bill.The Standard Army Management Information System (STAMIS) tactical computer program took the biggest hit, losing $82 million out of a requested $176 million budget request.Although the Army said it needed the full amount to replace 135,000 STAMIS computers, the committee approved funding of $94 million only to provide computers for units deployed to combat zones. The Army needs to address funding for computers that other units need its regular 2008 budget request, the committee report states.The committee took the same approach with the budget for Army Combat Service Support communications. It approved $74.4 million for the purchase of 346 remote satellite communications terminals for deployed units but cut $37 million from the Army’s request for routine fielding of equipment it believed should be handled through the normal budget process.The Army requested $532.5 million for VHF-FM Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (Sincgars) technology, widely used by tactical units and for convoy operations. The committee approved the full request.In its report on the supplemental bill, the committee said it was concerned that the Army has not made the best use of available industrial capacity to deliver already funded Sincgars radios and walled off $250 million of the $532.5 million until the service provides a report on its strategy to do so. The Army fiscal 2007 Sincgars budget totaled $189 million.The committee approved the Army’s $451.6 million supplemental budget request for long-range, high-frequency radios and $390.7 million for the Bridge to the Future network program, which has pushed delivery of satellite IP communications systems down to the tactical edge.The committee approved the full 2007 supplemental request from the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).But, according to the committee report, although JIEDDO performs a critically important mission, the committee believes “the lack of fiscal discipline within the organization is detrimental to its overall success.” The DOD comptroller needs to improve oversight of the organization to prevent duplication of projects among the individual services and JIEDDO, the panel’s report states.The committee cut the Defense Information Systems Agency’s request of $162.3 by $86 million, the amount the agency had requested for development of an expeditionary virtual network. The committee said funding for that network would be more appropriately handled in the Iraq Security Forces Fund, which provides funding for Army and police units in Iraq.The committee approved DISA’s request of $3.7 million for its global teleport project, which serves as an interface between satellite systems and terrestrial networks. DISA also received its full emergency budget request of $975,000 for its Net-Centric Enterprise Services program.The committee passed the 2007 war supplemental bill March 16, but details of the bill became available late March 20 when a copy of the legislation and report with handwritten changes was posted on the House Rules Committee’s Web site. The bill still needs to be approved by the full House and aligned with a similar Senate proposal before its provisions become law.