President-elect Joe Biden proposed a $9 billion investment in the Technology Modernization Fund and support for cybersecurity and improved IT assets across federal agencies as part of his $1.9 trillion economic package released Thursday night.
While Biden’s American Rescue Plan largely gears its funding toward addressing the COVID-19 pandemic both medically and economically, the legislative package also looks to modernize and secure federal IT and networks amid recent compromises, such as with the recent SolarWinds breach.
“The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities,” a Biden transition team news release said. “President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to launch the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure federal IT and networks.”
In addition to the $9 billion for modernization across agencies through the TMF, the package offers resources to various agencies that lead in IT modernization and security, such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and General Services Administration. More specifically, the package would provide:
- $200 million for the Information Technology Oversight and Reform fund to support the federal CISO and U.S. Digital Service in rapid hiring of cybersecurity and IT experts
- $300 million for GSA’s Technology Transformation Services to “drive secure IT projects forward with the need for reimbursement from agencies”
- $690 million for CISA to boost cybersecurity across federal networks and support pilots “of new shared security and cloud computing services"
The plan focuses on supporting cybersecurity initiatives amid the SolarWinds breach discovered last month, but federal IT officials have already said throughout the course of the pandemic last year that modernized IT solutions have been critical to delivering relief services to the public.
Cloud infrastructure and modern IT solutions, for instance, enabled the Small Business Administration to rapidly scale up loan aid and the IRS to distribute stimulus checks. The TMF also received a prominent focus in prior relief funding.
Cloud and other emerging technologies have supported the medical community throughout the pandemic as well, from the rise of telehealth solutions to the role of advanced data sharing and analysis in the rapid research and development of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Biden relief and stimulus package, which also proposes additional $1,400 stimulus checks, a universal vaccination program and expanded medical coverage for Americans, will be passed to a Congress now led by Democrats in both the Senate and House.