Business & Practice

Trump Seeks $1B Budget for Homeland Security Cybersecurity

Feb. 13, 2018, 2:00 PM

The Department of Homeland Security would get $1 billion for its cybersecurity mission under President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget request released Feb. 12.

Trump’s request for the department’s cybersecurity initiatives would help affirm “the important role that DHS plays in combating cyberattacks,” according to the budget document. The $1 billion request would help DHS protect critical infrastructure systems, support state, local, and tribal governments, and boost international and private sector cybersecurity protections, according to the budget document.

Trump’s overall DHS budget request is $47.5 billion, approximately $5.1 billion more than the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. Funding for DHS in fiscal 2017 was $42.4 billion.

The budget request helps show the administration’s focus on the agency’s cybersecurity mission and how DHS can help the international community and private sectors limit cyberattacks.

“DHS has a robust cyber mission and could always use additional funding to continue implementing and building critical programs that help agencies and companies dealing with cyberthreats,” Joe Stuntz, former cybersecurity policy lead at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and current vice president of cybersecurity at One World Identity, said.

However, the budget request is just a starting point in a lengthy appropriations process during which lawmakers will debate how much money to allocate the department and for what purposes.

Cybersecurity Concerns

Forecasting how much money the agency might end up needing for its cybersecurity mission may be complicated given potential changes and challenges facing the department, former OMB and DHS officials told Bloomberg Law Feb. 12. The agency faces some cybersecurity challenges that the budget request didn’t focus on, Stuntz said.

Trump proposed reducing funding for the DHS Office of Biometric Identity Management, “raising concerns that there are other fundamental challenges—like identity management—that must be funded to robustly in order to combat all types of cyberthreats,” Stuntz said.

A former department official also highlighted possible legislative changes at its cybersecurity office that could cause issues with the budget request. The DHS Cyber & Infrastructure Security Agency Act bill (H.R. 3359) introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would reorganize the agency’s cybersecurity and infrastructure protection operations and establish new leadership positions.

“The funds desperately need to align with a new cyber directorate assuming the administration is able to push through the McCaul legislation, which has been languishing for more than two years,” James Norton, former deputy assistant secretary of legislative affairs at DHS under President George W. Bush and founder and president of policy consulting group Play-Action Strategies LLP in Washington, said.

Border Wall, Disaster Relief

Trump proposed funding increases for other programs that fall under Homeland Security’s jurisdiction. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Feb. 12 released anaddendum to the budget request that added an extra $1.49 billion for DHS over the original $46 billion request.

Trump is asking for $1.6 billion for 65 miles of border wall in South Texas. Immigration and border protection programs would get a boost of $782 million to hire new immigration officers and $2.5 billion to detain illegal immigrants, according to the budget blueprint. An additional $249 million was added to the DHS budget request in the addendum to account for an increase in detention beds.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund would get $6.9 billion in an effort to increase response to and recovery from natural disasters. Some $24 million of that amount would go to the oversight of disaster relief spending, according to the request.

The DHS didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s email requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington atdstoller@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin atdaplin@bloomberglaw.com

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