President’s FY2021 Budget Prioritizes DoD, DHS, and VA Tech Investments

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the president’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal Feb. 10, which comes in at $4.8 trillion including billions slotted for cyber investments at the Departments of Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS), Energy (DoE), and Veterans Affairs (VA).

At DoD, the president’s budget request includes $14 billion for research and development (R&D) in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information systems, 5G, cybersecurity, and other technological efforts. DoD’s budget also includes $10 billion for cyber investments in safeguarding DoD networks and information, supporting military commander objectives, and defending the nation.

OMB budgeted DHS about $1.1 billion for all cybersecurity efforts. At that level, the budget document says DHS could increase the number of network risk assessments it leads from 1,800 currently to more than 6,500 going forward, and said some of those could support state and local election systems. The funding also would support the EINSTEIN and Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation programs.  The FY2021 budget request also supports DHS’s Cyber Talent Management System, and a Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)-led cybersecurity training program for all Federal employees.

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The administration budget proposal would also shift Secret Service from DHS to the Department of the Treasury in order to improve cybercrime investigations. OMB said it was inspired by the success of the transfer of background investigations from the Office of Personnel Management to DoD that reduced the investigation backlog by 64 percent.

At VA, a 12.4 percent increase from the FY20 level raises the agency’s funds for critical IT modernization projects to $4.9 billion in the FY2021 presidential budget proposal. The level of funding would support implementation of the MISSION Act, claims processing, supply chain management, and financial management business transformation. More than $310 million is budgeted for cloud migration and aging infrastructure replacement to support VA’s new electronic health records systems.

DoE is allotted $185 million for its Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, a $29 million increase from last year. The money will be put toward early-stage R&D projects that improve cybersecurity and resiliency in the energy supply chain, the budget document says. The agency’s new AI and Technology Office is slated to receive $5 million in FY2021. The budget eliminates the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and in total, the proposed DoE budget shows an 8.1 percent decline  from FY2020.

Throughout the budget request, OMB highlighted several other IT- and cybersecurity-related accounts, including:

  • The Federal Citizens Service Fund is allotted $58.4 million to assist Federal agencies using cloud technologies and promote FedRAMP-authorized services;
  • The National Institutes of Standards and Technology is allotted $718 million – $282 million less than FY20 – to advance U.S. innovation and technological development in AI, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, and next generation communications technologies;
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is allotted $25 million to modernize spectrum management systems and prepare for 5G;
  • The Internal Revenue Service is allotted $300 million to modernize its IT services and improve taxpayer experience and security; and
  • The Department of Agriculture’s rural broadband program received $305 million less than FY20.

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