Tuesday Insight – January 3rd, 2023: Budget for All: What a Way to Celebrate the Holidays

Jan 5, 2023

Congress passed its whole-of-government funding package just before the end of the year.

This past March, I scoured the $1.5 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that funded the government through the 2022 fiscal year to unearth IT and cyber spending, as well as management and policy guidance. In an act that can only be considered masochistic madness, I read through the massive bill —all 2,741 pages of it —to tease out key highlights. Having healed over these several months—some might consider me the “Mick Foley” of federal IT—I’ve taken on the same task for the $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill passed by the Senate on Dec. 22 and by the House on Dec. 23. Upon the bill’s House passage, President Biden said he’d sign the bill into law as soon as it reached his desk.

While much has been made by Republican critics of a 4,155 page bill being “dumped on them at the last minute”, the bill is the result of a number of appropriations hearings held over these past months, where administration officials have testified about the programs and requested funding. Moreover, “only” 1,833 pages of the bill cover the regular discretionary spending of the federal government. The rest of the bill includes supplementals for Ukraine ($44.9 billion) and disaster relief ($27 billion); electoral count reform and presidential transition improvement; legislation like No Tik Tok on Government Devices, the Secure 2.0 Act of 2022, the Strong Veterans Act of 2022 and the Contract Act of 2022; Post Office designations, extenders and technical corrections of the just enacted National Defense Authorization Act; and miscellaneous provisions on aviation-related, oceans-related, financial services, water and consumer protection matters.

In a time when only two trains can be counted on to leave Capitol Hill each year—the NDAA and a bill to fund the government—it is little wonder that each one has become a vehicle to be loaded up with all kinds of other policy legislation. The omnibus includes nearly $773 billion for an array of healthcare, environment, labor, education and economic programs; this is $68 billion—or 9%—more than last year for domestic spending. It also includes about $858 billion to fund Department of Defense programs authorized in the NDAA, a 10% increase over FY 2022. We await an agency-by-agency breakout of what was appropriated for information technology. Historically, Congress has approved higher funding for IT than the president has requested. But some specific IT and cyber funding levels are noted in the legislation The categories are the separate appropriations designations noted in the act and represent the subcommittees in the House and Senate with jurisdiction over those departments/agencies.

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