The White House opened its wallet, according to the president’s 2016 federal budget proposal, and IT is the beneficiary.

Top Line: IT Spending
Government IT spending is set to tick up by nearly 3 percent to $86.4 billion this year. The budget’s overall IT spending proposal is only $1.7 billion higher than last year’s proposal. By comparison, between 2001 and 2009, IT spending grew by an average of over 7 percent annually. However, the Obama administration says IT spending growth has slowed to about 1.5 percent since 2009 due to greater technological efficiencies, according to the National Journal.

Expand U.S. Digital Service
The president’s budget promotes the U.S. Digital Service (USDS), a one-year-old initiative that aims to bring private- and public-sector developers and tech workers into government in its IT portfolio. The funding request would support about 500 USDS employees across the government. Obama is asking for $105 million to expand the concept of USDS, reports Kaveh Waddell at the National Journal.

“The budget scales and institutionalizes this new approach to technology by providing funding to 25 agencies for the development of their own agency digital services teams,” the budget reads.

The USDS previously revamped, the Veterans Affairs management system, and part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, among others.

As Jack Moore at Nextgov explains, President Obama wants to recruit top talent to government IT by staffing new agency teams with “America’s best digital experts.” The new tech units will focus on revamping agencies’ services and implementing “cutting-edge digital and technology practices.”

CDM: Securing Government Networks
Cloud computing and such provisioned services account for about 8.5 percent of the government’s IT spending today, according to the president’s budget proposal.

The Obama administration will begin deploying Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) capabilities to certain agencies this year and expand such tools and services across the government in 2016. The administration will also work with agencies to ensure the 2014 Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) is effectively implemented.

In addition to FISMA, implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) will be crucial to strengthening federal IT and building on success from initiatives such as data center consolidation and agile development. What is not clear is how to implement the legislation or what guidance agencies will receive, notes FedTech’s Nicole Blake Johnson.

Cyber Sharing
Recent high-profile cyberattacks – from Sony Pictures, to Home Depot, to celebrity’s personal photos – have raised public awareness of our weak cyberdefense and made cybersecurity a national priority.

“No sector, network, or system is immune to infiltration by those seeking to steal commercial or government secrets and property or perpetrate malicious and disruptive activity,” the budget states.

The budget calls for $227 million to build a Civilian Cyber Campus to “better share information on cyber threats and incidents with those being targeted, improve the ability to share evidence of cyber-crimes with other nations, and maintain efforts to increase the Nation’s cyber workforce,” says the document.

Cyber Defense
The request illustrates a focus on open government data as a catalyst for the private sector. It provides $16 million for E-government initiatives in GSA’s Federal Citizen Services Fund, supporting important IT investments such as open data and digital government initiatives.

Under President Obama’s proposal, the Department of Defense would receive $12 billion for science and technology investments in cybersecurity, among other areas.

Defense IT
“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families,” President Obama wrote in a message accompanying the budget request.

The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester last month told Congress that nearly every U.S. weapons program shows “significant vulnerabilities” to cyberattacks, including misconfigured, unpatched and outdated software, notes FierceGovernmentIT.

Increased funding for protection of government networks would be good news for big weapons makers like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, which already play a big role in cybersecurity, encryption, and analysis for defense and intelligence agencies, according to Andrea Shalal and Alina Selyukh at Reuters.

President Obama wants to boost the unclassified cybersecurity budget by $1 billion, or nearly 8 percent. A significant chunk would go to the Pentagon to staff up its Cyber Mission Force and continue construction of U.S. Cyber Command’s Joint Operations Center at Fort Meade. Politico’s Stephanie Simon believes the cybersecurity portion has a lukewarm chance of passing Congress.

Thanks to the FCC, schools and libraries are well on their way toward meeting the first goal of the Obama administration’s 2013 ConnectED Initiative to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband over five years.

This year’s budget has dropped the ConnectEDucators program name, but has proposed the same budget ($200 million) to go toward Education Technology State Grants. These grants would also increase teacher support for implementing technology in the classroom.

The ConnectEDucators proposal, however, states districts will only receive grants if they already have sufficient broadband infrastructure. But some wonder how Feds would ensure districts with insufficient infrastructure do not fall farther behind, exacerbating the digital divide, according to EdCentral.

View the FY2016 budget proposal by agency at Government Executive.
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MeriTalk Staff