White House Asks Congress for Largest IT Budget in History

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President Donald Trump's fiscal 2021 budget includes the largest ever information technology funding request in United States history. 

The White House is asking Congress to approve IT funding of $92.1 billion, up from the $91.9 billion sought in 2020 and the $88.7 billion requested in 2019. By contrast, the amount of cash the president is seeking to spend on cybersecurity in 2021 dropped from the $18.79 billion he asked for in 2020 to $18.18 billion. 

According to the budget, funds secured for IT "will be used to deliver critical citizen services, keep sensitive data and systems secure, and to further the vision of modern Government."

Modernization is a key focus of the budget, with the administration revealing plans to replace highly customized, internally developed, and often single task–oriented systems that are costly to maintain and secure with "commercial off the shelf technologies that largely enable more efficient use of Federal technical resources."

The budget states: "The Administration continues to pursue its IT Modernization CAP Goal, with its three-pronged approach focusing on enhancing Federal IT and digital services, reducing cybersecurity risks to the Federal mission, and building a modern IT and cybersecurity workforce."

Federal chief information officer Suzette Kent said on Monday the IT budget was about "not only improving service, but saving money as well." 

Kent said: "You see investments in shared services continue that helps us save money across agencies on the modernization side. We will continue the savings as we consolidate data centers."

Another key policy identified in the budget is advancing automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA).

The budget states: "To maintain America’s AI advantage, federal agencies are to focus on two distinct areas. The first area of focus is internal—Federal use of AI to better achieve agency missions and serve citizens.

"The second focus area is external—including provision of data and related resources to support the private sector and academia in their efforts to harness AI. In both of these areas, the administration’s policies and strategies aim to accelerate AI innovation to increase our prosperity, enhance our national/economic security, and improve our quality of life."

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