Like so many industries worldwide, federal governments are growing more dependent on technologies to grow, evolve, and survive. However, with the rise in ransomware attacks, it is increasingly risky to run government agencies on aging information technology infrastructure, software, and services.
The Office of Budget Management and the General Services Administration could spark much-needed change through the Technology Modernization Fund. An announcement by the OBM and GSA in June 2022 indicates that $100 million of the Fund will improve IT modernization in the federal government and streamline digital services throughout the nation.
In March 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order to modernize the federal government’s development of digital assets. It included:
- Acknowledging the risks created by digital assets
- Expanding safe and affordable access to financial services through digital assets
- Identifying financial stability risks
- Addressing of ransomware and other cybercrime by the Department of State and other key federal agencies
- Expressing a willingness to cooperate internationally to innovate and modernize in the field of digital assets
- Reducing the cost of access to governmental financial services
- Ensuring the responsible implementation of digital asset technologies
President Biden’s Budget of The U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2022 specifies $9.8 billion for cybersecurity and $500 million for technology modernization, and mandates to reskill and upskill a workforce that can build, run, and secure federal data and IT systems.
These big investments are needed because the status quo of using outdated systems is inviting attacks on America every second of every day, according to a 2020 report by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.
The Stagnant Status Quo of IT Modernization in the Federal Government
“The status quo is a slow surrender of American power and responsibility,” the CSC warned.
Federal agencies oversee a complex web of technology with myriad nodes safeguarding national secrets; organizing precious human, natural, and fiscal resources; providing essential services to citizens; and securing critical assets for American energy, transportation, and defense. Unfortunately, this web has become as vulnerable as it is vital to essential services.
Case in point: The January 2022 cyberattack against Bernalillo County, NM, caused several county departments and government offices to close. The fact that cybercriminals could so easily shut down these essential services rang serious alarm bells in Washington, where investment in federal government IT modernization lags behind many private sector organizations.