DHS Would Get At Least $2.9B for Tech, Cyber Under House Proposal

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The draft spending bill would set aside funding for new technologies at the border and a couple billion for the government’s central cybersecurity agency.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee for Homeland Security released its draft spending bill Tuesday, including $898 million for specific technologies and research and almost $2 billion for the government’s lead cybersecurity agency.

The 2020 Homeland Security draft appropriations bill includes few direct references to technology but does propose $242 million for new technologies for Customs and Border Protection and $656 million for the Science and Technology Directorate.

“This bill invests in smart, effective technologies and programs to address actual threats and keep Americans safe,” House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a release announcing the proposal. “The bill provides necessary funding increases to protect the traveling public, defend our nation’s infrastructure from physical and rising cyber threats, secure our borders and ports of entry with new technologies, and ensure that communities have adequate resources to support local emergency personnel and enhance their preparedness capabilities.”

The bulk of the funding for CBP would be split among four technology priorities, according to the subcommittee:

  • $105 million for border security technology.
  • $20 million for port of entry technology.
  • $30 million for trade enforcement enhancements.
  • $30 million for a third Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft, which can be used for surveillance, enforcement, transportation or other missions.

While that funding is not insignificant, it represents only 1.8% of the proposed $13.8 billion for CBP.

Under the proposal, the Science and Technology Directorate—the division charged with researching, developing and integrating new technologies within the department—would take a hit, but not as much as under the budget proposed by President Trump.

The $656 million being proposed is $154 million less than allocated in fiscal 2019 but $84 million more than requested for the coming year. Appropriators noted the proposal “restored funding for the Centers of Excellence and labs.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s $2 billion in funding would include $1.53 billion for operations and support. Of that nut, $156 million is set aside for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, or CDM, program, which helps agencies across government acquire cybersecurity tools through a pre-vetted suite of vendors.

The bill includes $474 million for “procurement, construction and improvements,” of which $223 million is set aside for construction of a new headquarters at Homeland Security’s St. Elizabeths campus.

The proposal also allocates $11.4 million to CISA specifically for research and development.

House appropriators noted the $2 billion proposal is $335 million more than was approved for fiscal 2019 and $408 million more than requested in the president’s budget proposal.

“The bill supports the broad array of homeland security missions, from protecting air travel and our territorial waters, to helping state and local governments prepare for terrorism threats and disasters, to securing our cybersecurity systems and physical infrastructure,” Homeland Security Subcommittee Chair Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., said in a statement. “It also takes a balanced approach to border security and immigration enforcement, including new efforts to protect the dignity and safety of every person in U.S. government custody.”

The proposal will go through a markup Wednesday at a subcommittee hearing.