With looming budget cuts, DHS S&T looks to CISA

The proposed White House budget once again includes steep cuts to the Science and Technology Directorate at DHS.

tech budget

For a second year running, the Trump administration is looking to trim the budget of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security.

While S&T evaded cuts in the 2019 appropriation that reopened the federal government after a 35-day partial shutdown, the new budget proposal includes a 30 percent cut to S&T's current appropriation of about $840 million.

With possible cuts on the horizon, S&T is increasingly looking to the newly formed Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for synergies, top agency officials said.

CISA and S&T have been melding their public-facing outreach in the last few months, teaming up for a booth on the exhibit floor at the high-profile RSA conference in San Francisco at the beginning of March. Their experts also co-presented on secure cities programs at the 2019 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, that just wrapped up, they said.

That increased cooperation is notable, since S&T and CISA -- as well as CISA's predecessor, the National Protection and Programs Directorate -- had long tussled over funding and control of cybersecurity technology development within DHS.

"S&T is changing the way we manage research and development" as technology changes and agency mission needs shift, said William Bryan, senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for science and technology, in remarks at S&T's March 19 technology showcase event in Washington, D.C.

In October, S&T kicked off a new, more agile organizational structure that DHS said would allow it to more rapidly transition technologies into operations. The new structure looks to address customer needs with strategic engagements, leverage S&T's operational analysis and systems engineering experience and apply a team-based approach to find solutions quickly, according to the DHS budget request.

CISA is charged with protecting the nation's critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats, which requires collaboration between both government and private-sector organizations.

"We're thinking of merging this event with a CISA event," said Bryan of S&T's signature technology showcase.

"In the last 18 months under Bill Bryan's leadership, we have been increasing coordination and integration of S&T and CISA," CISA Director Chris Krebs said.

S&T has traditionally been a conduit for pushing technological capabilities out for commercial development as well listening to industry about emerging technologies. Both of those efforts are critical to CISA's missions of protecting critical infrastructure and federal networks, according to Krebs.