COVID Relief Bill Boosts CISA, GSA and Digital Service Funding

Patrick Semansky/AP

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act passed Wednesday in the House includes significant technology funding for several agencies, including the federal government’s cybersecurity defense arm. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law Friday. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will get $650 million for cybersecurity risk mitigation. The agency has been leading the federal government’s investigation into the SolarWinds hack that breached several federal agencies.

Also included in the relief funding is $200 million for the U.S. Digital Service, a technology team based within the Executive Office of the President. The General Services Administration will receive two appropriations through the COVID Relief Act: $1 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund and $150 million for its Federal Citizen Services Fund. The citizen services fund enables public access and engagement with government programs through a variety of operational programs and public-facing products, and supports the implementation of emerging technologies in agency-facing programs.

The single largest tech investment in the law directs $7.1 billion to the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which supports broadband capabilities and remote learning in schools nationwide. The law also provides a major funding boost to the Labor Department to beef up the nation’s unemployment infrastructure. In recent months, the Labor Department came under scrutiny from its inspector general as part of an ongoing audit of CARES Act funds. Thus far, the investigation uncovered $5.4 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims.

Mirroring the initial House version of the bill, the law allocates $140 million to the Indian Health Service for IT, telehealth infrastructure and electronic health records systems upgrades. The agency, housed within the Health and Human Services Department, is in the midst of a major modernization effort geared to improve the care it provides to more than 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

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