A group of technology trade associations urged lawmakers to fund information technology modernization aimed at coronavirus response, telework and cybersecurity gaps through stimulus legislation in a recent letter sent to congressional leadership.
The Information Technology Industry Council, Alliance for Digital Innovation, Computing Technology Industry Association, Center for Procurement Advocacy, Internet Association, and Cybersecurity Coalition signed the letter. They also wrote the Office of Management and Budget for support.
Included in both letters are four principles addressing “critical” IT gaps in need of funding in either the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act or future stimulus packages.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a significant strain on many of the federal, state and local government resources across the United States that people depend on every day,” said Gordon Bitko, senior vice president of public sector policy at ITI. “These principles highlight specific areas where investments should be made to help government agencies at all levels modernize, secure and better serve citizens and communities that rely on their services.”
Exactly how large those investments should be is up to Congress in consultation with federal agencies and state and local governments, an ITI spokesperson told FedScoop.
“Outdated” IT systems have hindered federal and state agencies’ ability to assist new small business loan and unemployment insurance applicants, and some high-priority coronavirus response efforts remain paper-based, wrote the group.
A “rapid” move to remote telework caused by the pandemic has opened agencies up to increased cyber threats, interfered with operations and limited access to commercial tech and services, the group added.
The four principles to keep in mind with future stimulus packages include:
- Adequately funding cloud adoption, digital services, scalable IT infrastructure, and technology transformation required by agencies on the front lines of response to emergencies like the pandemic
- Funding state and local agencies whose IT modernization will speed up relief efforts
- Bolstering the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) so it can make meaningful investments in cross-agency IT modernization
- Ensuring cybersecurity, workforce training and process transformation are part of IT modernization efforts
A draft supplemental funding bill in the House proposed $3 billion for the TMF, but the proposal hasn’t made it into any of the three emergency supplementals passed thus far. The coronavirus has “exposed and, in some cases, exacerbated” federal IT needs that TMF supports, the ITI spokesperson said.
The CARES Act covered some telework capabilities, but failed to address the cybersecurity needs of a remote workforce, according to the group. Their letter suggests increasing zero-trust security architectures, encouraging adoption of Trusted Internet Connections 3.0 guidance, funding automation of Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) processes, and ramping up training.
“Without robust funding for cybersecurity, remote collaboration leaves agency networks, clouds, and end points vulnerable,” reads the letter.
The group hadn’t received a response from congressional leadership or OMB.