The White House’s budget proposal follows the massive SolarWinds hack, attributed to Russian hackers, as well as the exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities by a Chinese state-sponsored group. Biden’s request included a boost of $110 million for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a leading group addressing the recent data breaches. Another $20 million would go towards setting up a “cyber response and recovery fund” at DHS.
The funding increase for CISA comes after the agency received $650 million in the most recent COVID-19 relief bill. “This funding would allow CISA to enhance its cybersecurity tools, hire highly qualified experts, and obtain support services to protect and defend Federal information technology systems,” Biden’s budget proposal states.
The Biden administration’s proposed cybersecurity increases also include $500 million for the General Services Administration’s Technology Modernization Fund to bolster cybersecurity and upgrade systems. The budget would further set aside $750 million for reserve funds for agency cybersecurity. The COVID-19 relief package previously designated $1 billion to the TMF initiative.
Beyond cybersecurity, the budget recommendations also call for investments in quantum computing and artificial intelligence. These areas would be priorities of a newly established director for technology, innovation and partnership at the National Science Foundation. Biden previously called for $50 billion for this program in his infrastructure proposal.
Bipartisan congressional leaders have called the CISA funding “a good start” but still too little for the agency charged with safeguarding federal networks, as The Washington Post reports. “CISA needs sustained, robust funding to carry out its mission and nimbly respond to evolving threats,” said Rep. John Katko (N.Y.), the top Republican on the House Homeland Security committee. “Without question, it should be a $5 billion agency in the coming years.”
As Nextgov reports, an administration official told reporters prior to the budget proposal unveiling: “I think this is the beginning of a long appropriations process, that, however, the president’s budget will influence. I think it will set a tone, and I think there are a lot of bipartisan programs, you will see highlighted when you take a look through what the president is championing.”