Biden calls for ‘most ambitious effort ever’ to modernize federal IT, cybersecurity
President-elect Joe Biden will make federal IT modernization and cybersecurity top priorities during the early days of his administration — second only to COVID-19 response, it seems.
In a fact sheet circulated Thursday ahead of Biden’s speech announcing his American Rescue Plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, his transition team declared that the administration “will provide emergency funding to upgrade federal information technology infrastructure and address the recent breaches of federal government data systems.”
“This is an urgent national security issue that cannot wait,” the fact sheet says, positioning the nation’s state of cybersecurity as another crisis it’s facing in addition to the pandemic. “The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to launch the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure federal IT and networks.”
Under this, Biden’s team wants to give the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) $9 billion to help launch integral shared IT and cybersecurity services across government. Additionally, Biden wants to change the reimbursement structure of the fund, which has been a key critique of it since its creation and a reason it has struggled to receive appropriations from wary lawmakers.
As it exists, TMF recipients must pay their “borrowed” funds back within five years. This plan suggests a change to that, which would make it more suitable for “more innovative and impactful projects,” the fact sheet says.
Biden’s plan also budgets $200 million to boost the hiring of cybersecurity experts “to support the federal Chief Information Security Officer and U.S. Digital Service,” $300 million for “no-year funding” to support the General Services Administration Technology Transformation Services (TTS) team, and another $690 million to help the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “bolster cybersecurity across federal civilian networks, and support the piloting of new shared security and cloud computing services.”
As Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20, the federal IT community will await the announcement of the leaders who will put these proposals into action. This week, the Biden team announced that Jason Miller, deputy director of the National Economic Council in the Obama White House, as his pick to be deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget. The people eventually hired in the Federal CIO and CISO roles will report to Miller.