President Donald Trump recommended a 1.7 percent increase in federal IT spending for fiscal year 2018, but proposed a more holistic approach to IT modernization that would “fundamentally transform” how agencies operate.
The president’s budget request, released May 23, is the clearest indication of the new administration’s priorities to date. The spending plan calls for $95.6 billion in federal IT spending. That’s about $1.6 billion more than this year.
But the White House’s blueprint stresses that government agencies buy IT “more like a business.”
“The Administration will work to modernize and improve government operations and service delivery by building modern, citizen-facing digital services, buying more like a business, improving cybersecurity, investing in improved data analytics, and generating greater cost efficiencies,” states the White House budget documents. “Modernization, in this sense, is not simply replacing individual outdated IT systems with newer ones; rather, it is a holistic approach to Federal IT that fundamentally transforms how agencies accomplish their missions.”
Upping Investment in Cyber
As expected, the White House’s budget request places an emphasis in cybersecurity investments to fortify IT infrastructure.
“Bad actors must not be allowed to use the internet to perpetrate crimes and threaten our security,” a fact sheet accompanying the budget request reads. “These crimes affect our largest companies, impact millions of people at a time, damage our small businesses, and affect our national security.”
Part of this protection effort includes sizeable requests for some of the Department of Homeland Security’s most visible cybersecurity programs. In a DHS fact sheet, Secretary John Kelly notes a request of $971.3 million to “improve security of the U.S. cyber infrastructure in collaboration with public, private, and international partners.” Just over 25 percent of this money would go toward the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program, which points agencies toward the hardware, software and services that strengthen their cybersecurity efforts.
The president’s request also sets aside almost $400 million for the National Cybersecurity Protection System (known as EINSTEIN), which works to develop new protection strategies for agencies.
Moving On IT Modernization Initiatives
Aside from cybersecurity, the White House wants to move agencies away from operating costly, legacy IT.
“Investing in technology has the potential to enable agencies to accomplish their missions more securely, effectively, and economically, but in order to take advantage of these opportunities, agencies must be able to invest in projects that modernize and upgrade or retire existing IT systems,” according to a fact sheet accompanying the General Services Administration’s budget request.
The blueprint also suggests creating a Technology Modernization Fund that would be used to replace and retire antiquated IT. The budget request includes $228 million in seed money for a fund that agencies could use to move to more modern infrastructure, such as the cloud and employing shared services. The money would then be repaid in future years from the savings garnered by using the more efficient technology.
“This fund will also become a self-sustaining mechanism for Federal agencies to regularly refresh their IT systems based on up-to-date technologies,” the GSA fact sheet reads.
Other priorities include: real-time document sharing, videoconferencing and cloud-based email for more agencies.