An insider's guide to the 2015 budget

It's easy to dismiss the annual release of the president's budget as political theater, but it's hard to ignore the policy and spending priorities that will guide government actions whatever the final budget numbers are.

When we first started talking about how we’d cover the president’s 2015 budget proposal, I wanted to start with a joke along the lines of the classic, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise.”

I know that’s snarky, but so often the hoopla that surrounds the budget release seems like an exercise in futility, particularly in the current political environment.

But there is no denying the depth of the policy statement that the budget documents contain and the priorities that will direct spending initiatives, whatever the final budget numbers are.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered some of the better coverage we’ve seen around the web. Think of it as a readers’ guide to the 2015 budget.

Obama 2015 budget: $3.9 trillion

Here is Politico’s breakdown of how the president’s proposed budget would boost technology, transportation and education spending, trim healthcare spending, while fully-funding the Affordable Care Act, and cut deeply into military and energy spending.

IT spending dips slightly in Obama budget request

First the numbers: the proposed budget includes $79 billion in IT spending, down slightly from $81.4 billion for fiscal 2014. The defense side of the budget takes the hit, dropping to $35.4 billion in 2015, versus $37.6 billion this year. Civil spending is up a bit at $43.7 billion.

But this piece by FCW’s Adam Mazmanian also explores the administration’s plan for IT oversight reform, which will add more responsibilities to the federal CIO’s portfolio.

Some of the oversight moves include greater use of TechStat and Portfolio Stat as well as developing governmentside website templates and making it easier to deploy talented coders and IT personnel from agency to agency.

Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel also wants more standards and policies to drive a “more effective citizen experience.”

Where are those cyber dollars going?

More than a half-billion dollars—$549 million, to be exact—of President Obama’s $38.2 million discretionary budget for the Homeland Security Department will go to support the continued implementation of the Einstein managed security service, FCW reports. The cyber budget also aims to charter a Federal Cyber Campus that would co-locate key civilian cybersecurity agencies to promote an expansive approach to cyber incident response. $514 million will go to cyber R&D, and $124 million will be put forward to support, expand and enhance Citizenship and Immigration Services’ E-Verify system.

Obama budget plan challenges cuts to training, customer service

From Government Executive comes a story looking at proposals in the budget to restore training and customer service initiatives, particularly at the IRS, Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs.

New spending is called to improve online and in-person services such as reducing wait times for Social Security checks, and the creation of an e-benefits portal for VA.

Who gets more, and who gets less?

In perhaps one of the most relevant articles to federal contractors, the Washington Post outlines the changes in funding levels for each department, answering the simple question of, “who gets more, and who gets less?” There’s some good news and bad news; whereas the Defense Department will see a 0.1 percent decrease in spending this year, Veterans Affairs will enjoy a 3 percent increase.

Boehner, GOP dismiss Obama budget, Murray sees potential compromises

Roll Call’s Steven Dennis describes “the instant-reaction kabuki of party leaders” reacting to the budget announcement, including House Speaker John Boehner ripping President Obama’s budget blueprint.

The GOP sees new revenue proposals as a “nonstarter” but Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, a Democrat, saw some areas for bipartisanship, such as changes to the corporate tax code to invest in an infrastructure package.

Obama’s budget seeks overall of business-tax codes

From the Wall Street Journal: The president’s budget calls for $150 billion in infrastructure funding – to come from a corporate tax code overhaul. 

Why Obama’s pitch for $56B in new spending might actually happen

Given the current political climate, you might think that something President Obama calls the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative that includes new taxes and new spending would die a quick death.

But the Washington Business Journal’s Jill Aitoro quotes analyst Loren Thompson as saying that the Opportunity fund as it’s called gives Congress the opportunity once again to avoid the pain of sequestration during an election year.

Obama’s $3.9T budget is ambitious

The Washington Post reported that President Obama is being ambitious with his $3.9 trillion budget proposal, seeking to boost economic growth while taming the national debt through higher taxes on wealthier Americans, nixing payments to health providers, and overhauling immigration laws.

Charts break down the difference between Obama, CBO budgets

In this budget breakdown article, Christopher Ingraham walks through two charts that help you understand Obama’s new budget, which Ingraham said forecasts a dramatic reduction in deficits over the next 10 years.