Information Technology and Cybersecurity in the FY 2020 Budget Request

Published: March 21, 2019

BudgetCybersecurityInformation Technology

The details of the President’s FY 2020 Budget Request released on Monday, provide us we some insight into the administration’s IT and cybersecurity priorities for the coming year.

The Analytical Perspectives part of the budget document provides overviews of both IT and Cybersecurity budgets and focus areas for FY 2020.  The FY 2020 IT budget request totals $87.8 billion which is a -0.2% decline over FY 2019 enacted levels.  IT for DOD non-classified programs totals $36.7 billion, down 3.1%, and IT for civilian agencies totals $51.0 billion, up 2.0%. Within civilian agencies, the 100 largest civilian investments account for 44% of IT spending.

The FY 2020 budget focuses on IT modernization to improve mission delivery using the following strategies:

  • Technology Modernization Fund
  • Cloud Adoption
  • Improving the IT workforce  
  • Reducing Cybersecurity Risks
  • Maximizing U.S. Digital Service Efforts

The budget includes funding for 4,113 IT investments at major civilian agencies supporting three main functions: Mission Delivery; IT Infrastructure, IT Security and IT Management; and Administrative Services and Support Systems.

The administration is pushing use of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) to propel IT modernization efforts.TMF is an innovative funding mechanism with the mission of assisting agencies in transforming and reimagining the way they use technology to deliver their mission and services to the public in an effective, efficient, and secure manner. The budget requests $150 million to provide seed funding for additional projects and to allow the TMF to tackle more complex, government-wide efforts. To date, the TMF has received nearly 50 proposals totaling over $500M. In its first year, TMF funded seven projects totaling almost $90 million. Funds are to be repaid using cost savings and avoidance over a period not to exceed five years.  Incremental funding is dependent on successful delivery of products. Effective projects will be used as proofs of concept across all federal departments.

The FY 2020 budget also advocates for the migration to cloud computing for agency technology advancement, modernization and cost savings. The budget document cites Cloud Smart, the Data Center Consolidation Initiative, cloud e-mail adoption, and eliminating technical and process barriers as specific strategies for moving federal cloud adoption forward.

The budget also outlines a vision for revamping federal human resources practices in order to attract, retain, and train IT and cyber talent.  Specific initiatives are to include:

  • Streamlining hiring and dismissal practices
  • Modernizing human resources technology
  • Making better use of data in workforce management
  • Rebalancing labor-management authorities with private sector best practices
  • Reducing barriers and red tape in the hiring process  
  • Leveraging the current talent pool with training and rotation opportunities

The president’s budget request also includes $17.4 billion for cybersecurity-related activities, a $790M (4.7%) increase over the FY 2019 level. Due to the sensitive nature of some activities, this amount does not represent the entire cyber budget.  Defense represents $9.6 billion of the total, a $909M increase from FY 2019. Civilian agencies account for $7.8 billion, a $119 million decrease from FY 2019.

The budget states that strengthening the cybersecurity of federal networks, systems, and data is one of the most important federal challenges and a vital component of the administration’s IT modernization efforts. Agencies plan to continue closing gaps in enterprise risk management assessments in areas of network visibility, IT tool standardization, and common operating procedures.

Cybersecurity priorities include:

  • Better utilize threat information in decision-making
  • Implement improved baseline security capabilities
  • Enhance accountability for the management of information security risks
  • Implement modern digital identity management processes, technologies, and remediation techniques
  • Continue to advance the CDM program to provide adequate, risk-based, and cost-effective cybersecurity and resources
  • Execute the National Cybersecurity Strategy

The IT portion of the Analytical Perspectives budget document also extols the influence and impact of the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) on advancing some of the federal government’s most critical public-facing digital services through their design and technology expertise. The administration plans to maximize the use of these resources to modernize federal IT and enhance the customer experience for citizens. The budget cites some of the USDS’ successful projects such as which was redesigned by VA and USDS, and the CMS Blue Button 2.0 initiative API that make it easy for Medicare recipients to manage their own health information and share it with others.

The administration appears to be focused on many of the IT and cybersecurity efforts that it was in last year’s budget, like IT modernization, cloud migration, and improving the cybersecurity posture.  However new this year are mentions of reforming the federal hiring process and further maximizing the use of the USDS which will both likely have a positive impact on IT modernization effort.