The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requesting $45.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2020 emergency funds to support the government-wide response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, including updates to agency IT to support telework and improve cybersecurity.

“The aim of this request is to maintain that capacity and ensure that resource needs created by the pandemic response are met,” Acting Director Russell Vought said in a March 17 letter to Vice President Mike Pence. Vought went on to explain that these requests are not a “broad-based solution to the major economic dislocation wrought by the virus.” Broader proposals to support families and communities, he said, are still forthcoming.

Multi-billion-dollar requests have been made to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and emergency response at the Department of Defense. Many other agencies, however, are seeking IT upgrades to support the mass transition to Federal telework to slow the spread of the virus and cybersecurity services to protect their networks.

Department of Education

The Department of Education plans to support teleworking for 5,000 employees with a $10 million request. The funds support additional network bandwidth and mobile devices to fit the “maximum telework” guidance.

Department of Energy (DOE)

DOE’s Departmental Administration is seeking $21 million in additional funds to meet additional IT requirements and support telework, including an uptick in cybersecurity costs. The agency is also seeking an additional $1 million each for telework at several departments including Environmental and Other Defense Activities, Energy Programs, Science, and its Western Power Administration.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The request includes $1.336 billion in additional funds for HHS to support healthcare services, including telehealth and rural hospital tech assistance. To respond to the COVID-19 crisis, the department is also planning an emergency expansion to its patient lookup system, including the development of an online database to help medical response teams quickly lookup patient information, totaling $21 million.

The HHS Office of Inspector General is seeking $4 million to support IT requirements and other operational costs related to its coronavirus response.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

DHS Federal Emergency Management Agency requests $47 million to support its pandemic response. The funds would support expanding conference bridge capabilities, cybersecurity, and virtual private networks during the crisis.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is also requesting $30,000 to fund a six-month supply of personal protective equipment for personnel.

Department of the Interior (DOI)

DOI is funding several telework ventures in response to the outbreak. The agency seeks $17 million in additional funding to its Working Capital Fund to support network security upgrades and reduce cybersecurity risks, including improvements to servers that DOI manages for other agencies.

Additionally, over $100 million has been requested by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Indian Education to support the response to coronavirus and teleworking capabilities.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

Within DOT, the U.S. Maritime Administration is seeking $2.4 million to support its response to the pandemic and fund IT resources for telework.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

A $1.2 billion request from VA would support a “quick shift” to using telehealth and other tech to deliver healthcare services in response to COVID-19. This includes a major up-front investment in IT resources to support the increased use of the telehealth platform and bandwidth upgrades for healthcare providers and other employees.

The Veterans Health Administration alone is asking for $15 billion to support healthcare costs and the Veterans Benefits Administration seeks $13 million in telework support.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

To “allow large scale telework,” a part of EPA’s Environmental Programs and Management’s $2 million request will include funds to purchase virtual private network licenses.

General Services Administration (GSA)

GSA aims to offer government-wide tech solutions throughout the pandemic and requests $19 million to meet that goal. Digital signatures, virtual private networks, security testing, and web support are all priorities for the agency. Anticipating an increase in traffic to its contact center, GSA will also use the fund to improve internal IT.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

To support remote access for all NARA employees, the agency seeks $5.5 million. The funds will also be used to improve hardware and accelerate cybersecurity improvements.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

An additional $12 million at OPM would support remote operations, such as tech for digital case management, short-term electronic document submissions, and increased telecommunications.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Along with funding disaster loans, SBA is seeking $2 million to also support telework and IT requirements.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.