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How Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Law Boosts cybersecurity


The COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Joe Biden unlocks billions of dollars in new funding for cybersecurity and information technology upgrades.

Biden smile 5621670 640The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, which cleared the way for stimulus checks, was signed by Biden on March 11 after passing through the House and Senate without any Republican support. As notes, the package includes $650 million for the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to spend on reducing cybersecurity risk in federal systems. That’s slightly less than the $690 million that Biden proposed for the agency, as The Hill observes.

The funding “reflects a recognition by this administration of the urgency of improving cybersecurity," CISA cyber chief Eric Goldstein told CNN.

The coronavirus relief package also directs $200 million to the U.S. Digital Service, a multidisciplinary unit of technology specialists launched by former President Barack Obama.

The General Service Administration, which provides operational assistance to federal agencies, is the recipient of two appropriations under the bill. As NextGov explains, the GSA’s Federal Citizens Service Fund will get $150 million. The fund supports modernization of government systems. And an eye-catching $1 billion goes to the Technology Modernization Fund.

The TMF, which recently marked its three-year anniversary, was started with $100 million under the Modernizing Government Technology Act. Although lawmakers originally tried to invest $3 billion in the fund, it hasn’t grown much, adding only three appropriations totaling $75 million. The House version of the American Rescue Act initially appropriated $9 billion for TMF, but many in the Senate balked.

The law’s biggest individual expenditure is $7.17 billion to create a new Emergency Connectivity Fund for remote learning. As Law Street Media details, this provision aims to reimburse schools or libraries for buying such eligible equipment as wi-fi hotspots, modems, routers and connected devices.

Other tech funding in the bill: $2 billion for Unemployment Insurance infrastructure handled by the Labor Department, $500 million to the Centers for Disease Control for COVID-19 data upgrades and $140 million for the Indian Health Service to support IT and telehealth.

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