June 29, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI), BSA | The Software Alliance, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the Center for Procurement Advocacy, Internet Association (IA), and the Cybersecurity Coalition called on Congress to provide necessary funding to address current and expected technology and cybersecurity challenges that should be a high order priority in any subsequent relief and response packages. In a letter to congressional leaders, the technology trade associations stressed that as the public sector continues to address the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing economic security, and broader recovery efforts at the federal and state level, more funding will become essential at all levels of government.

“To date, public sector Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have performed commendably as they have sought to ensure continuity of operations while also ramping up IT systems that facilitate government management and oversight of COVID-19 recovery initiatives,” the associations wrote. “However, the prevalence of outdated legacy IT continues to hamper the effectiveness of recovery efforts. Citizens are being denied positive digital government experiences as they seek access to much needed programs, such as securing business loan programs, receiving economic security payments, or applying for unemployment benefits.”

The ongoing COVID-19 health emergency continues to highlight the need for additional IT investments to ensure the United States is able to effectively respond to this crisis, including investments to support telework and telemedicine, dramatically improve citizen-facing services such as loan programs, state unemployment application processing and call centers, and to ensure that agencies at the federal, state, and local level have modern technology capabilities and infrastructure that can scale to address exigent circumstances. The groups highlighted several key priorities they encourage Congress to include in any upcoming response and recovery legislation. These include:

  1. Support the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) at a level that would allow for meaningful investment in cross-agency IT modernization initiatives. To expedite the resourcefulness of such funds, existing requirements directing agencies to payback TMF funds should be relaxed when such funds are tied to pandemic or disaster recovery efforts;
  2. Provide direct funding to federal agencies to modernize and secure IT systems beneficial to COVID-19 and future emergency responses. Such funding should be made available for expenditure over multiple years, but does not necessarily need to flow through agency working capital funds;
  3. Establish and fund a mechanism that provides federal financial support to state and local government agencies in need of IT modernization and upgrades to foster better recovery efforts. Such investments should focus on interoperability between programs that rely on federal, state, and local IT systems, where applicable. Language providing additional resources to the Coronavirus Relief Fund for IT improvements is an avenue Congress should explore;
  4. Provide necessary legislative authority for agencies to establish IT working capital funds with strong governance and reporting requirements to enable both Congress and the Executive Branch to more effectively budget for and finance significant IT modernization initiatives;
  5. Provide increased funding to the CDM program so that DHS can promptly and completely fulfill all requests for service and ensure robust threat detection and mitigation against increased adversarial attacks at all Federal agencies;
  6. Support funding to improve the Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program (FedRAMP) cloud technology security program by automating the security authorization process to increase government access to secure commercial cloud service and technology providers; and
  7. Establish a dedicated cybersecurity grant program for SLTT governments to enable greater resiliency and enhanced security of critical technology systems and networks
  8. Ensure that IT modernization efforts include focused attention and investment in commercial technologies that strengthen cybersecurity, empower effective workforce training, and ensure robust digital transformation.

Read the letter here.

Public Policy Tags: Coronavirus Response