Cyber, AI and Quantum Priorities in DOE FY 2021 Budget Request

Published: March 05, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisArtificial Intelligence/Machine LearningBudgetCybersecurityDOEInformation Technology

The Department of Energy’s FY 2021 discretionary budget of $35.4B boasts additional funding in the cyber, AI and quantum arenas.

The Department of Energy’s budget request seeks $35.4B in FY 2021, $3.2B and 8% less than its FY 2020 enacted level. Despite overall lower budgetary figures, DOE is ramping up its capabilities in cyber, AI and Quantum Information Science (QIS), and other emerging technologies.

FY 2021 Funding for Major Organizations under DOE:

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)


Under Secretary of Energy


Under Secretary of Science


Departmental Administration


Discretionary Priorities

According to the budget release announcement, highlights of DOE’s FY 2021 budget include securing energy independence, R&D for Industries of the Future and keeping U.S. researchers at the forefront of innovation, strengthening cybersecurity through cleanup of major nuclear cleanup sites and modernizing nuclear security infrastructure, and supporting AI to strengthen DOE mission applications and operations.

Highlights of DOE’s FY 2021 budget:

  • +$3.1B under Weapons Activities at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to rebuild the capability and capacity for warhead component production.
  • $1.2B budget for the Office of Energy to advance critical nuclear energy technologies
  • $988M budget (+8M in FY 2021) for the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) to focus on developing strategic partnerships in quantum and data intensive applications
  • -$311M for the proposed elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) program
  • -$2.5B in reductions for applied energy programs focused on nuclear, fossil, renewables, efficiency and electricity
  • $78.6M budget for the four Power Marketing Administrations (PMA) with the proposal to repeal Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) borrowing authority for construction of electricity transmission projects
  • Elimination of the DOE loan and loan guarantee programs including, the Title XVII Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, and the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program

Cyber Priorities

Cybersecurity at the DOE not only includes nuclear and energy grid security and resilience, but information sharing with energy partners of today’s threats. Within the FY 2021 budget request, DOE provides $185M for the Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), a $29M or 18% increase from FY 2020. The increase provides focus on enhancing the speed and effectiveness of threat information sharing, including AI techniques for critical energy delivery infrastructure. Additional funds at CESER also support acceleration of R&D initiatives, including the Cybersecurity for the Operational Technology Environment (CyOTE™) program, and continued development and operation of the Cyber Analytics Tools and Techniques 2.0 (CATT™2.0) program.

Under the NNSA, the Information Technology and Cybersecurity Program requests $375M for FY 2021, with a $46M increase in Cybersecurity over the FY 2020 enacted level. The increase helps continue cyber security modernization at NNSA sites and the NNSA Information Assurance Response Center, and implements TEMPEST (electronic and electromechanical telecommunications and automated information processing equipment). Moreover, NNSA sets aside an additional $2.5M under its Weapons Activities fund for regular escalation in maintaining information protection programs.

Within DOE’s IT budget, several cyber-related investments also see increases:

  • +$27M for IM (Departmental Administration) IT Security and Compliance ($105M total)
  • +5M for EM (Environmental and Other Defense Activities) HQ PBS-20 Cyber ($39M total)
  • +$2M for EM HQ Non-PBS 20 Cyber ($20M total)
  • +$8M in new funding for NE (Energy Programs) INL Cyber Security Shared Services ($8M total)
  • +$6M in new funding for NE INL Cyber Security Operations ($6M total)
  • +2M in new funding for NE INL Classified Cyber Security ($2M total)

AI Priorities

Formed in September 2019, the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO) serves as DOE’s primary center for department-wide efforts in AI programs, builds multi-sector partnerships to support AI, and identifies gaps in AI not addressed by other DOE components and labs. The FY 2021 requests $5M for AITO, a 97% or $2M increase from FY 2020. In FY 2021, AITO will focus on hiring additional staff to support its mission, develop and deliver innovative AI hardware and software, and institutionalize the AI Exchange (AIX) database for agency-wide sharing of AI efforts.

Set to accelerate the use of AI throughout the department, Energy’s Exascale Computing Initiative promises the delivery of three exascale systems in the next one to three years. Exascale systems contain computing capabilities of at least one exaFLOPS, or quintillion calculations per second. DOE’s exasacle project requests $710M in FY 2021. Funding will support continued development of two exascale systems out of the Office of Science for delivery in 2021 and 2022. A third exascale system is expected for delivery to NNSA in FY 2023.

Quantum Priorities

DOE’s FY 20201 budget provides $249M, ($237M to the Office of Science and $12M at the NNSA) in support of QIS research. Quantum research activities will include development of sensors based on atomic-nuclear interactions, development of quantum computing algorithms, formation of strategic partnerships in quantum and data intensive applications, and establishment of a dedicated Quantum Network.

For more on the DOE's and other agency FY 2021 Federal Budget Requests, refer to Deltek's FY 2021 Federal Budget Request: Priorities And Opportunities report.