Biden Budget Boosts Federal IT Spending

President Joe Biden speaks at Sportrock Climbing Centers, Friday, May 28, 2021, in Alexandria, Va.

President Joe Biden speaks at Sportrock Climbing Centers, Friday, May 28, 2021, in Alexandria, Va. Evan Vucci/AP

The request would add another $500 million to the Technology Modernization Fund.

President Joe Biden wants to continue the annual upward trajectory of federal IT spending, requesting $58.4 billion specifically for agency-level technology improvements and maintenance in the first full budget proposal of the new administration.

“The president proposes spending $58.4 billion on IT at civilian agencies in FY 2022, which will be used to deliver critical citizen services, keep sensitive data and systems secure, and further the vision of digital government,” the administration said in a set of budget documents released Friday.

The requested spending level would be a 2.4% increase over fiscal 2021, during which federal agencies are on track to spend upwards of $57 billion. In his 2021 budget proposal, then-President Trump requested $53.4 billion for civilian IT.

The budget requests funding for 4,531 IT investments at 25 agencies, including 546 considered “major IT investments,” defined as having “significant program or policy implications; has high executive visibility; has high development, operating, or maintenance costs; or requires special management attention because of its importance to the mission or function of the agency.”

The spending request is chopped up into three “IT Portfolio” areas:

  • IT infrastructure, security and management—45% of the IT spending request.
  • Mission delivery—44.2%.
  • Administrative services and support systems—10.7%.

The budget proposal “supports the modernization of antiquated and often unsecured IT; agency migration to secure, cost-effective commercial cloud solutions and shared services; the recruitment, retention, and reskilling of the federal technology and cybersecurity workforce to ensure higher value service delivery; and the reduction of cybersecurity risk across the federal enterprise,” officials wrote in the analytical perspective section on IT and Cybersecurity Funding.

The request pushes federal agencies to continue modernization efforts that move away from customized IT tools, systems and services and toward more “standards-based platforms and systems,” including pushing for more “commercial capabilities that replace highly-customized government technology.”

In line with that thinking, the proposal doubles down on previous administrations’ focus on cloud and shared services.

“The federal government will continue to accelerate the adoption of cloud technologies to improve the efficiency of government business and communications,” the document states, noting the importance of cloud services in enabling mass telework during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, shared services will “lead the way to transform the federal government by enabling the delivery of innovative, flexible and competitive solutions and services that improve mission support service quality and decrease the total cost of services across the federal enterprise.”

Those efforts would ostensibly build on the Trump-era Quality Service Management Offices, or QSMOs, though the current administration has not offered details on its plans for shared services.

The budget also gives a shout-out to the IPv6 transition, which has been ongoing since 2005.

The Trump administration made a final effort in early 2021 pushing agencies to ensure “at least 80% of IP-enabled assets on federal networks are IPv6-only by the end of fiscal 2025.”

President Biden’s 2022 proposal reiterates the need for agencies to move on this issue.

“While stop-gap measures have served to extend IPv4’s viability thus far, it is imperative that IPv6, with its vastly larger address space, sees widespread adoption in the near future,” officials wrote in the analytical perspectives.

“The budget also supports the implementation of federal laws that enable agency technology planning, oversight, funding and accountability practices and Office of Management and Budget guidance to agencies on the strategic use of IT to enable mission outcomes,” the analytical perspective states.

Those include data-centric legislation like the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, better known as the Evidence Act, and the subsequent Federal Data Strategy to implement the ideas therein.

“The FDS provides a consistent framework of principles and practices that are intended to guide agencies as they continue to implement existing and future data initiatives,” the documents state. “It lays out an overarching and iterative plan on how the federal government will accelerate the use of data to deliver on mission and serve the public while promoting data accountability and transparency over the next 10 years.”

Technology Modernization Fund

The single biggest IT-focused dollar request in the proposal would add another $500 million to the Technology Modernization Fund, building on the $1 billion added earlier this year as part of the second stimulus package.

Lawmakers were hesitant to add funds to the TMF during the Trump administration, including $25 million increases in most annual appropriations.

The TMF—established as part of the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017—was originally designed to be a self-sustaining centralized pool from which agencies can apply for loans for technology upgrades. However, with the $1 billion cash infusion in March, the Office of Management and Budget moved to relax some of the repayment requirements, especially for pandemic- and cybersecurity-related projects.

The Biden budget proposal seeks to continue the momentum from the stimulus, though OMB has yet to award any of the $1 billion added in March.

“With the continuously evolving IT and cyber landscape, these investments are an important down payment on delivering modern and secure services to the American public, and continued investment in IT will be necessary to ensure the United States meets the accelerated pace of modernization,” the perspectives document states.

Agency-by-Agency Breakdown

The documents released Friday include spending requests for every federal agency and details on how IT funding relates to the broader budget and past appropriations.

The Veterans Affairs Department would take the largest slice of IT funding under the president’s proposal, requesting $8.5 billion, or about 14.5% of the $58.4 billion.

The departments of Homeland Security ($8.2 billion), Health and Human Services ($7 billion), Treasury ($6 billion) and Transportation ($3.7 billion) round out the top five.

The Office of Personnel Management ($141 million), National Archives and Records Administration ($127 million) and Small Business Administration ($109 million) account for the smallest IT budget requests.

Agriculture Department 

The Agriculture Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer would receive $101 million under the proposal, a 50.7% increase over the estimated $67 million on track to be spent in fiscal 2021. The budget line includes a requirement to spend at least $56 million on cybersecurity efforts.

Commerce Department

The request estimates the department will spend about 4% of its total budget—$ 2.6 billion—on IT. About $127 million is earmarked for technology modernization projects, including $20 million for the successor to Commerce Business Systems and $107 million to mitigate cybersecurity risks. As proposed in the American Jobs Plan, the request also asks for $10 billion for regional innovation hubs that will focus on certain technology areas but spreads them around the country. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology would see an overall budget increase to $919 million and be allowed to move up to $9 million of unspent appropriations into a working capital fund. The boost would go to research for advanced communications, climate and energy efforts, quantum information science, and trustworthy artificial intelligence.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget features $40 million for the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate, a new research group to find “high-risk, high-reward” solutions to address climate change and clean energy. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration would see a $10 million boost for broadband programs, $4 million to implement an executive order to secure the nation’s telecommunications supply chain, and a “one-time, no-year” influx of $26.7 million to support the Federal Advanced Communications Test Site to develop 5G and other advanced communications.

Education Department 

Most of the Education Department’s funding is tied up in loan and grant administration, though the agency would get a new working capital fund.

The Department of Education Nonrecurring Expenses Fund would be set aside for “information and business technology system modernization and facilities infrastructure improvements necessary for the department,” the documents state. That fund would be filled with “unobligated balances of expired discretionary funds”—or appropriated dollars that went unused by the end of a given fiscal year.

The MGT Act, which created the TMF, also established working capital funds that were designed to act as an agency-specific revolving fund for IT modernization. 

Energy Department 

The Office of the Chief Information Officer would get $68 million under the budget proposal—a line item not funded in the previous two budgets. 

Along with funding IT services and modernization across the department, the funding also includes “significant investments will address cyber vulnerabilities identified as a result of SolarWinds incident of December 2020.”

The request also includes $2 million for the Artificial Intelligence Technology Office, a 50% cut compared to 2021.

Energy’s proposal includes IT and cybersecurity upgrades for the National Nuclear Security Administration, including the systems that manage and protect the nuclear arsenal.

While the budget document does not offer a specific dollar figure for IT and cybersecurity, it states that such funding would be used for “information sharing and safeguarding through secure, agile, and risk-informed information technology and cybersecurity solutions for both the unclassified and classified computing environments. The program orchestrates, provides, and directs cybersecurity across the NNSA enterprise and to its mission partners. Manages the IT portfolio, federal IT investments, services, and projects in alignment with the NNSA and departmental strategies, as well as other national policy drivers.”

IT costs for much of the rest of the Energy request are wrapped into other administrative funding. All told, the department is asking for $3.2 billion for IT delivery and $793 million for cybersecurity.

Health and Human Services Department 

As noted above, HHS is among the top three IT budget requests for 2022, asking for close to $7 million, though few details are offered in the agency-specific request. The department also requested $715 million for cybersecurity needs, a nearly 20% increase over 2021.

Homeland Security Department

DHS is expected to spend just over $8 billion, almost 14% of the entire amount the administration requests for the department, in 2022. 

The department will also spend more than any other civilian agency on cybersecurity—$2.4 billion, which is $400 million more than in 2021—according to the administration’s analysis. It calls out DHS’s role housing the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program, which is meant to provide cybersecurity insight and assistance across the federal enterprise.  

Read more about cybersecurity spending in the budget here

Housing and Urban Development Department 

The Housing and Urban Development Department would get $437 million for IT programs under the 2022 proposal, as well as $69.8 million set aside for the Office of the CIO. 

Interior Department 

The department responsible for managing the nation’s lands—among other responsibilities—would get $1.5 million for IT in the 2022 proposal, along with renewed support for the agency’s working capital fund.

Interior was one of the early agencies to get a working capital fund for IT investments after the MGT Act passed. The president’s budget proposal continues the use of that fund, authorizing it up to $91.4 million, up from $60.7 million in 2021.

That fund is specifically set aside for “the operation and maintenance of a departmental financial and business management system, information technology improvements of general benefit to the department, cybersecurity, and the consolidation of facilities and operations throughout the department.”

Justice Department

The Justice Department proposal kicks off with a $113 million request for development and deployment of an IT system to improve information sharing within the department and with other law enforcement agencies. The outlay would be a 232% increase over 2021 levels ($34 million), which the attorney general could further bolster with up to $40 million transferred in from other IT-related accounts.

This funding will also be put toward departmentwide initiatives, including cybersecurity, IT transformation, architecture and oversight, and innovation engineering, which support the CIO’s Office in “leading the ideation, design, planning, and execution of enterprisewide IT innovations to enhance DOJ user experiences, while ensuring alignment with DOJ architectures and strategic priorities.”

One of the biggest Justice components, the FBI, asked for $40 million to “bolster its cyber investigative program,” as well as “$18.8 million to address threats posed to the nation by foreign intelligence actors, $6.2 million to store data from the body-worn cameras of federal task force officers, and $15.2 million to defend the organization against cybersecurity threats.”

The U.S. Marshals Service component requested $20.2 million to “upgrade electronic surveillance equipment” and $4.4 million for body cameras for its officers.

The National Security Division also requested $5 million for general IT needs.

Overall, the department requested close to $3.5 billion for IT and another $1.2 billion for cybersecurity. 

Labor Department

The Labor Department’s request includes $37.3 million explicitly for IT modernization efforts, including funding for support systems and infrastructure modernization.

While the support systems funding is geared toward “enterprisewide IT security enhancements that facilitate a centrally managed IT environment,” the bulk of the funding—$32 million—would go toward “the unified IT infrastructure, which is centrally managed and provides all agencies with general purpose business productivity tools, is a shared environment for common data sources, and the underlying IT services to support it.”

The 2022 request is a 37% increase over 2021, which is estimated to come in at $27.3 million.

In line with the MGT Act, the budget also asks Congress to approve an IT working capital fund where the agency can park unused discretionary dollars to put toward future IT projects. 

The budget documents note the fund would have “no impact on total spending at the department.”

State Department

The State Department would receive a $150 million increase in IT spending in Biden’s budget proposal, up to $2.8 billion. According to a statement issued by the State Department Friday, improving cybersecurity is a key priority for the agency, especially in the wake of reports that one of its sub-agencies, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, was breached by Russian hackers. Other tech-related investment priorities include secure and mobile communications tools.

“An increase of more than $100 million for State’s cybersecurity is crucial to mitigating the evolving cybersecurity threat landscape. The Department and the Agency remain prime targets of malicious state- and non-state actors, as evidenced by the recent attacks,” the State Department said. 

Transportation Department

The Transportation Department has an established working capital fund for multi-year improvement projects, and plans to put part of that fund—as much as $93 million—toward a “shared services environment for commodity information technology investments.”

“The IT shared services initiative will modernize IT across the department and improve mission delivery by consolidating separate, overlapping and duplicative processes and functions,” the documents state. “As a key part of this effort, the Office of the Chief Information Officer will focus on investment-level commodity IT as well as IT security and compliance activities.”

Transportation is also asking for additional funding to increase the agency’s cybersecurity posture. The agency requested $39.4 million—a 79% increase over 2021—specifically for security improvements to IT infrastructure, new identity and access management capabilities, data protection and “implementation of federal cybersecurity initiatives and implementation of enhanced security controls on agency computers and mobile devices. 

Treasury Department

Under Biden’s budget proposal, the Treasury Department would spend $5.9 billion on IT, or roughly 10% of its total budget, up from the $4.9 billion in fiscal 2021. Funding would include more than $130 million for cybersecurity expenses.

The IRS would receive a total budget of about $13 billion, “including funding for taxpayer services that will allow the IRS to continue delivering services to taxpayers using a variety of in-person, telephone and web-based methods.” The budget provides funding for IRS’ major IT modernization efforts, including its Business Systems Modernization Account platform.

Veterans Affairs Department

The Veterans Affairs Department would receive almost a 10% boost in IT funding under Biden’s budget request. The budget seeks $8.5 billion—roughly 15% of VA’s total obligations—for fiscal 2022, compared to $7.8 billion in IT spending in fiscal 2021. The single largest IT apportionment at VA is $2.7 billion for “activities related to implementation, preparation, development, interface, management, rollout and maintenance” for the agency’s electronic health records modernization effort. The multi-year funding—it will remain available for use through September 2023—comes with strings, however. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs must submit quarterly reports on the program rollout to the House and Senate Appropriations committees. The agency recently came under fire from its inspector general for underestimating the cost of the program by up to $2 billion. 

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency would be funded at its highest level since fiscal 2011 under Biden’s budget proposal, the EPA would receive $370 million in IT funding, up significantly over the $295 million the agency expected to spend this fiscal year. The budget request provides funding for EPA’s largest systems, including its Central Data Exchange and its Superfund Enterprise Management System. 

General Services Administration

The General Services Administration’s Acquisition Services Fund, or ASF, provides baseline funding for cost-recoverable work, such as acquisition and technology consultations under Assisted Acquisition Service and the programs under Technology Transformation Services. 

TTS—which includes programs such as 18F and FedRAMP—would receive $57 million under the president’s proposal, a 33% increase from projected 2021 spending but just $1 million more than spent in fiscal 2020. 

GSA’s other major IT program, the Information Technology Category—which develops and maintains governmentwide acquisition contracts for IT products and services—to lower costs in the coming year as it retires two major infrastructure programs: Networx and WITS. Both of those telecommunications contracts are being subsumed by the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

With those contract programs retired, ITC expects to spend $539 million in 2022, a 56% decrease over 2021 estimates and a 64% decrease from 2020 levels.

"Through strategic investments in our nation’s infrastructure, we can make public buildings more resilient and sustainable, make government technology more accessible and secure, and continue the transition to an electric federal fleet,” acting GSA Administrator Katy Kale said in a statement Friday. “This will create thousands of good-paying jobs across the country while saving taxpayer dollars.”


NASA would receive a slight IT funding decrease under Biden’s budget proposal. Under the proposal, Biden seeks $2.1 billion compared to the $2.2 billion the space agency received in IT funding over fiscal 2021. The budget outlines funding for numerous space flight initiatives but contains no line item funding for IT investments. However, the budget will provide funding to scientific and engineering workstation procurements; the agency’s Information Technology Infrastructure Integration Program, which centralizes management of the agency’s tech services, including customer service; and the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage, which provides federal customers redundant collocation services from the national power grid to the server rack level. 

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation would receive $165 million in IT funding through Biden’s budget proposal, a 23% uptick over total IT spending in fiscal 2021. Should Congressional appropriators follow Biden’s wish list for NSF, the agency would receive its largest IT budget in more than a decade, though the budget does not lay out specific IT investments for the agency. 

Office of Personnel Management

Under Biden’s budget, OPM would receive $141 million for IT, an uptick from fiscal 2021’s $130 million total. The budget allocates about $9 million for “information technology infrastructure modernization,” specifically its Trust Fund Federal Financial System. 

Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration would receive $109 million for information technology under Biden’s proposal, a $1.5 million increase over fiscal 2021 numbers. About $6 million would be slotted for the ongoing modernization of its loan management accounting systems. Those systems provide oversight to SBA’s $835 billion portfolio of loans and loan guarantees. 

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration is slotted about $2.2 billion for IT under Biden’s budget request, up $200 million from the agency’s total IT spending of $1.9 billion in fiscal 2021. The request does not call out specific IT line items for SSA, but it does request $2 million to modernize the SSA Office of Inspector General’s IT infrastructure.  

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct requests for GSA programs.