The new draft budget bills released by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on November 10 include multiple provisions across departments that will have implications for Federal IT and other modernization projects.

Commerce Directed to Speed CDM Deployment

The Commerce budget bill pushes the Department of Commerce to implement its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program faster. The budget justification notes that the committee is “concerned about the potential risk of cyberattack due to increased teleworking,” compounding previous concerns about cybersecurity. Commerce must expedite deployment of CDM across its components, and report to Congress on its progress.

DHS Must Report on Cloud Migration

The Homeland Security funding bill notes that while Senate Appropriations is pleased with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) data center consolidation efforts, the committee is “concerned about the speed by which the Department may be moving to shift data and applications to the cloud computing environment.” The Senate bill would require DHS’ CIO to offer a semiannual report on the department’s cloud migration alongside the budget justification plans and obligation plans already submitted to Congress.

NewPay Receives Scrutiny

The committee’s Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill shines a harsh spotlight on the NewPay modernization program run by the General Services Administration (GSA). The bill’s explanatory statement notes concerns that the program does not have the resources needed and that the implementation may only cover a portion of payroll services. The bill would require GSA to team with the largest Federal payroll provider moving forward, and to allow other shared service payroll providers to market their services to other agencies.

AI Risk Management Framework Requested From NIST

In its Commerce budget bill, Senate Appropriations provides more funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) while calling for a new framework for artificial intelligence (AI). The bill funds NIST at $300 million over its budget request, and requires that spending on cybersecurity efforts drop no further than FY20 levels. On AI, NIST would receive $4 million above FY20 levels, but would need to start the process on creating an AI Risk Management Framework, with regular reports to Congress.

Senate Would Raise CDM Budget to FY20 Levels

The budget for the CDM program at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) would be significantly above the agency’s budget request and slightly above FY20 levels under the Senate’s proposed budget bill. The bill also notes the need to “identify gaps” in CDM Phase 1 and Phase 2, and expand Phase 3 and Phase 4 capabilities at agencies. The EINSTEIN system did not receive the same treatment from the Senate, falling from $165 million in FY20 to $91 million proposed for FY21.

CMS Directed to Use AI to Detect Fraud and Abuse

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) are using high performance computing to tackle fraud and abuse, but the Senate wants to see greater use of AI for the task. The committee praised the partnership between CMS and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and directed CMS to “incorporate AI software to examine waste, fraud, and abuse in the healthcare setting.”

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Josh Mayo
Josh Mayo
Josh Mayo is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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