Trump Seeks $1.5B for Cybersecurity in FY 2018 DHS Budget

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By Daniel R. Stoller

The Department of Homeland Security would receive $1.5 billion for cybersecurity efforts under President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018 released March 16.

The $1.5 billion in funding is aimed at protecting federal government computer networks and national critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, the blueprint said. Using advanced cybersecurity tools and “more assertive defense of Government networks, DHS would share more cybersecurity incident information with other Federal agencies and the private sector, leading to faster responses to cybersecurity attacks directed at Federal networks and critical infrastructure,” it said.

President Barack Obama requested approximately $907 million for DHS cybersecurity projects for fiscal 2017. But the department is operating under continuing resolution funding for fiscal 2017, so the actual budget for the department’s cybersecurity work is unknown.

Trump is seeking net discretionary funding for DHS of $44.1 billion for FY 2018. Funding for DHS in fiscal 2016, the last year for which a final budget was enacted by Congress, was just over $48 billion, according to Bloomberg Government data. The last fiscal year in which DHS funding dipped below $45 billion was FY 2011, the data show.

The budget blueprint said the $44.1 billion request for DHS is a $2.8 billion (6.8 percent) increase from the FY 2017 annualized continuing resolution level. The federal government’s FY 2018 begins Oct. 1. The bulk of that increase, $2.6 billion, is marked for border wall construction and related immigration initiatives.

Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at the George Mason University, told Bloomberg BNA that those in the technology and cybersecurity sectors may feel left out because the bulk of the $2.8 billion increase goes to the border wall. But because Trump’s budget is just a request and the final budget needs congressional approval, the cybersecurity budget may increase, she said.

Trump’s overall budget request for the DHS may garner some House support but, more than likely, would be dead on arrival in the Senate without major changes, de Rugy said.

Matthew Gardiner, cybersecurity strategist at email security company Mimecast in Boston, told Bloomberg BNA that the president’s budget request, and eventual budget outlays, need to address the growing U.S. cybersecurity crisis. The federal government, either through the DHS or law enforcement agencies, needs to use its budgets to work more effectively with the private sector, he said.

But, the budget is only part of the battle, Gardiner said. The president and Congress need to lay out a clear path for U.S. cybersecurity policy so government agencies can successfully fulfill their cybersecurity missions, he said.

Other DHS Initiatives

The proposed budget would also allocate:

  •   $314 million for 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement personnel;
  •   $1.5 billion above the 2017 annualized continuing resolution level for expanded detention, transportation and removal of illegal immigrants; and
  •   $15 million to implement mandatory nationwide use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system.

Trump seeks to “reduce or eliminate” state and local grant funding by $667 million for programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to the budget blueprint.

The blueprint also targets cuts to Transportation Security Administration “unauthorized and underperforming programs” of $80 million from the 2017 annualized continuing resolution funding.

“Inexplicably, the President’s budget slashes proven FEMA anti-terrorism grant programs and leaves high-risk surface transportation infrastructure vulnerable by imposing cuts to TSA and law enforcement support programs,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a March 16 statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dStoller@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

For More Information

The budget blueprint is available at http://src.bna.com/m1D.

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