The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) today announced $94.94 million of new project funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to advance network security projects.

The latest round of funding will help the agencies to modernize their networks and implement zero trust security architectures through investments of $64 million in USDA, $26.95 million in DHS, and $3.99 million in FTC.

“This administration is on a path to aggressively invest in defenses and shift from outdated perimeter-based defenses to a ‘zero trust’ approach that confronts our adversaries’ capabilities and intent,” said Federal CIO and TMF Board Chair Clare Martorana. “These investments will implement robust multi-factor authentication, encrypt government data, quickly detect and contain adversary activity, and continuously identify and remediate vulnerabilities.”

“The TMF is again making smart technology investments that will improve efficiency, boost cybersecurity, and deliver better for taxpayers,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “The TMF is showing that government can harness technology to make a positive impact in people’s lives, from supporting systems that help people who are food insecure to ensuring that first responders can quickly share information.”

The TMF received a $1 billion infusion from Congress last year and has now made investments totaling over $500 million. While some of those awards are for projects to improve citizen services, more than half of them have been for cybersecurity-related projects including work on and awards to individual agencies for zero trust security projects.

USDA Network Upgrade

The $64 million of funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Network Modernization (USDANet) will help the agency to build a reliable, secure network that can support all USDA program offices and services. The investment will reduce USDA’s number of legacy networks from 17 to one – resulting in an estimated $734 million in cost savings.

Additionally, the funding will boost the speed and cybersecurity of program offices such as the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which play a vital role in distributing food safety data and nutrition benefits to Americans.

USDANet will provide improved network security and a faster path to Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) 3.0 standards and zero trust security architectures.

“The USDANet modernization project enables USDA to continue and build on its customer-centric IT modernization efforts that deliver better performance for a better value,” said USDA Chief Information Officer Gary Washington. “It will also increase the reliability of USDANet and act as an enabler to protecting and operating the U.S. agricultural supply chain.”

DHS Cloud Modernization

The $26.95 million investment in DHS will allow the agency to modernize the DHS Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) service to a cloud-native platform. The HSIN was forced to manage growth in excess of 200 percent during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing its limitations.

The new platform will be able to scale up to meet peaks in demand during times of emergency, while also providing a more secure platform to share information among first responders, law enforcement, the private sector, and government partners.

FTC Security Operations Center

The $3.99 million investment in FTC will help the agency to procure a security operations center as a service (SOCaaS) in order to implement a zero trust architecture.

The project will allow the FTC to speed its SOCaaS implementation using security services and trusted cloud service providers to better protect sensitive data. With the support of the TMF, the FTC will be able to reduce the risk of bad actors executing a cyberattack and improve its response time to indicators of cyber incidents.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.