Trump FY2020 Budget Proposal Highlights Tech Priorities

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Although the Trump administration’s FY2020 budget proposal details a plan to broadly modernize the government, the fine lines in each department’s proposed funding show that the White House is more specifically geared toward researching and developing artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, IT systems, and technological infrastructure.

The budget indicates that the administration wants to expand AI capabilities across several agencies. The administration proposed $688 million in funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research different technological strategies, including ones that use AI, and requested $208 million for the Defense Department’s (DoD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The budget also carves out $71 million for the Energy Department’s (DoE) Office of Science to develop AI.

The administration also looks to fund cybersecurity efforts, particularly in DoD and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The budget cites that DoD should receive over $9.6 billion in 2020 to advance the department’s three cyber missions, which are to safeguard DoD’s networks and infrastructure, support military commander objectives, and more broadly defend the nation. This includes investing to maximize the capacity of forces like U.S. Cyber Command.

The administration expects over $1 billion toward DHS cybersecurity efforts, and it looks to hire at least 150 new cybersecurity employees by the end of 2020 to try to address the shortfalls in the department’s cybersecurity workforce.

Although the budgets are much smaller, DoE and the Treasury Department also get attention from the administration in cybersecurity projects. The budget calls for over $156 million toward DoE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, as well as $18 million for the Treasury Department’s cybersecurity.

Other IT and technology infrastructure projects are sprinkled throughout the budget. The White House aims to give the Department of Commerce $1.2 billion to develop critical satellite systems and to see how commercial technology can support that endeavor, $5.5 billion to DoE’s Office of Science for research, and $7.8 billion to the Transportation Security Administration for both its employees and its technology.

“The budget aggressively supports the department of new technologies, including 320 computer tomography units to the nation’s highest risk airports, and other technologies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of security operations for all modes of transportation,” the proposal states.

The budget also sets aside $4.3 billion for Veteran’s Affairs Department’s (VA) IT investments to improve digital interfacing between veterans and the VA. This includes an extra $200 million to recapitalize old network infrastructure, to expedite the VA’s transition to the cloud, and support the emerging VA MISSION Act of 2018 IT requirements. Furthermore, the proposal gives $1.6 billion to the VA’s new Electronic Health Record to integrate healthcare records between DoD and the VA.

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