The House and Senate Appropriations committees today unveiled a $1.7 trillion spending bill that would fund Federal government operations for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 that ends next September 30.
The bill features defense-related funding of $858 billion, and $800 billion of non-defense spending, according to figures offered by the Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chair of the House Appropriations Committee. The FY2023 spending bill and summaries of its major components are here and here at the committee websites.
With Federal government funding set to run out at midnight on Dec. 23, the race is on to approve the full-year spending bill before then.
At the present moment, it’s unclear how House and Senate leadership will set up the timeline for consideration of the spending bill, and allow for debate or amendments. Party policy lunch gatherings today are likely to shed light on the schedule, so stay tuned.
We also hear that a weather forecast calling for severe cold with heavy snow and rain over much of the country for later this week is driving the need for speed on considering the bill and getting home for the holidays before this weekend begins.
Here’s a rundown of some of the major government technology and cybersecurity items tucked in the 4,000-plus page bill:
Technology Modernization Fund
The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), which is administered by the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide money to help jump-start Federal agency IT modernization projects, is due to get a $50 million funding addition for FY2023. That’s roughly in line with the fund’s annual funding additions in recent years, with the exception of the $1 billion the fund received in 2021.
As of mid-year 2022, the fund counted about $700 million in its coffers – both from the 2021 infusion and prior year allocations – and reckoned it has made about $400 million of funding awards from the $1 billion received last year. The fund has made several modest-sized awards since then.
Federal Citizen Services Fund
The Federal Citizen Services Fund – also administered by GSA to support a wide range of programs including FedRAMP, USA.gov, Login.gov, and the U.S. Web Design System – is in line for $90 million of FY2023 funding, up from about $55 million in a normal year.
The funding, according to the budget document, will support “interagency projects that enable the Federal government to enhance its ability to conduct activities electronically, through the development and implementation of innovative uses of information technology.”
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – the main security agency for the Federal civilian government – would get a $313 million budget increase in FY2023, to $2.9 billion, or a 12 percent boost year-over-year. That’s down from the $394 million increase sought in President Biden’s budget request. See our separate story for much more detail on funding bumps for individual CISA programs.
Veterans Affairs Tech
The bill includes $1.76 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue implementation of its Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program, which is $741 million below the FY2022 enacted level and equal to President Biden’s budget request.
While the EHRM program has faced a troubled rollout, this funding would aid future deployments – which the VA has delayed until June 2023 – and provide “intensive staff training critical to the success of the effort and to ensure patient safety,” according to a summary of the bill. It would also allow for continued robust oversight of the program.
As for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the bill includes $12.3 billion for the agency, which has come under fire for its outdated IT systems and a substantial backlog of tax returns. This funding includes $4.1 billion – the same as the FY2022 enacted level – for operations support. To address its large backlog of returns, the bill also provides the agency with special funding transfer authority and direct hire authority.
Notably, the IRS will be undertaking a wholesale modernization campaign with $80 billion of new funding over ten years included in the Inflation Reduction Act. That funding stream aims to help modernize the agency’s business systems, including nearly $5 billion to hasten work on the agency’s three-year-old IT modernization plan, which had already received $275 million from the fiscal year 2022 budget and a one-time shot of $1 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021.
Social Security Funding Increase
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will receive $14 billion for its operating expenses, an increase of $785 million above the FY2022 enacted level. While the funding is higher than FY2022, it is less than President Biden’s FY2023 budget request of $14.8 billion for SSA – a level that the agency said “would allow us to improve customer service and offer the service experience you deserve.”
The agency says it has faced years of underfunding, which in turn has led to a severe staff shortage. Because SSA has focused resources on hiring, the agency said it has been unable to fully focus on IT projects and modernization.