Earlier this month, President Obama submitted the annual budget for fiscal year 2014 to Congress. Despite much discussion on federal spending cuts, the Obama administration requested a $2 billion increase in federal IT spending.
According to Steven VanRoekel, federal CIO, the key takeaway is that investment in IT will drive innovation and spur efficiencies. In a press briefing, VanRoekel stated: “IT will give you this ability to really have a multiplier effect in efficiency if it’s done well. The key here is we cannot invest in the way we have invested in the past.”
With the request for federal IT spending submitted, agencies will now have to reconsider how they’ve invested in the past. VanRoekel has indicated that agencies should move away from spending to maintain outdated systems and shift their attention to spending on innovation and technologies that will help agencies do more to achieve their missions.
While most agencies will benefit from at least a small boost in funding, two agencies, in particular, will see a significant increase. In terms of the big winners, the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veteran Affairs are at the top of the list, but the departments of Justice, Defense, and Commerce will also be significant beneficiaries.
Cybersecurity appears to be the main driver in determining which agencies are slated to receive the largest budget increase. The DHS’s increase would be put toward technology implementation for cybersecurity enforcement. Overall, agencies have requested $13 billion for programs designed to protect government and civilian networks. Additional programs for Department of Justice, DoD, DHS and Department of Commerce will be put in place for incident response, continuous monitoring of federal networks, trusted identities in cyberspace, and for helping protect critical infrastructure from attack.
The VA, which is expected to see over a 22 percent increase, would focus spending on improving claim processing time, integrated health record initiatives, and new technology for relationship management systems to reach a broader set of veterans.
Other agencies benefiting include Department of Education, Department of Transportation, Department of Treasury, State Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency. A few agencies, including Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and General Services Administration, will actually see a decrease in funding.
VanRoekel expects IT to benefit government agencies as well as taxpayers. In his words, “[w]ith information technology at the core of nearly everything the federal government does, we must use IT as a strategic asset and drive cost savings to pay for new and emerging technologies that can fundamentally improve the way government does business and delivers services to the American people.”