Ever since Y2K proved to be a non-event and the dot-com sector started to implode, information technology (IT) budgets have been feeling the finance department's increasingly sharp budgetary blade. In the beginning of 2002, the carnage to IT budgets looked as if it would be particularly bloody, but the hemorrhaging subsided as the year progressed. Spending ended up flat to slightly depressed from 2001 levels, which of course were already a far cry from the double-digit growth rates of the late 1990s.

So what is the outlook for 2003? A year ago, 2003 looked like the comeback year with spending growth predictions of 8%, 9% and even 11%. In the world of IT, hope clearly springs eternal. So should we be worried that even the most optimistic technology consultants are feeling a bit queasy about 2003 at this point?

The pessimism reflects the economy, which many analysts say put IT projects on ice in 2002. This year's slow start would augur a similar showing in 2003. Throw a potential war in Iraq into the mix, and IT spending could be even weaker.

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