President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget request for federal IT spending increased $4 billion over his FY20 request, including a $2 billion bump for both civilian agencies and the Department of Defense.
The president’s budget request, released by the Office of Management and Budget Feb. 10, asks Congress for $92 billion to fund 8,645 IT projects across government. That’s 1,000 more projects than the administration asked for last year. Around $53.3 billion was designated for civilian government, with the DoD receiving the remaining $38.8 billion.
The 100 largest investments account for 42 percent of total federal IT spend, according to budget documents. That’s a slight decrease from last year’s 44 percent.
The Department of Veterans Affairs overtook the Department of Homeland Security as the agency landing the most IT funds, with nearly $7.8 billion. A fair share of those dollars will be needed to upgrade its use of electronic medical records and IT infrastructure efforts, with the president’s budget giving the VA $310 million for cloud migration and legacy system replacement.
Cloud adoption will continue to be a priority for the administration, budget documents show. OMB is looking to continue improvement on cloud-based email adoption as laid out in the President’s Management Agenda, a document that outlines the president’s priorities for modernizing government. At the end of 2019, 76 percent of federal civilian emails were cloud-based, still short of the 95 percent goal, but up 10 percent from 2018.
The budget proposal would also give the IRS $300 million to “modernize its information technology (IT) infrastructure and enhance taxpayers’ ability to interact with the IRS securely and electronically.”
On a call with reporters, federal CIO Suzette Kent also touted the budget’s work on automation and artificial intelligence. According to budget documents, there are over 100 initiatives to reduce administrative burden. Over 50 of these projects focus on process improvement and standardization, with thirty of those projects use robotic process automation or AI.
The president’s budget also seeks to save money through the OMB’s data center optimization initiative and GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract vehicle set up to be the “preferred” governmentwide telecommunication and enterprise IT contract, while meeting DHS’ cybersecurity requirements. OMB estimates that EIS buying will save the government 16 to 21 percent a month.
The GSA requested $150 million for the technology modernization fund, a pot of cash loaned to agencies to work on one-off projects. That’s well above the $25 million that was enacted by Congress in the FY20 budget for the TMF. There are currently nine agencies using TMF funds for projects totaling $88 million. The TMF added two new projects so far this year.
The GSA’s budget request also includes $20 million for the transition to NewPay, the new payroll system available to federal agencies.
The top five civilian agencies by IT budget request are:
- Department of Veterans Affairs: $7.8 billion
- Department of Homeland Security: 7.3 billion
- Department of Health and Human Services: $6.4 billion
- Department of the Treasury: $5.1 billion
- Department of Transportation: $3.4 billion
Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.