$30 million cybersecurity line item pops up in state admin budget
Image via Cyber Ninjas.

Cybersecurity legislation has been moving through both chambers.

A $30 million dollar line item for cybersecurity popped up in the Senate’s second offer of a state administration budget during budget conferencing. The line item was not in other offers for that budget committee.

A House and Senate budget committee dealing with state administration and technology agreed on their budget Monday, bumping several budget and proviso issues.

Outstanding issues are primarily related to outsourcing the state data center including the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, funding the CIO office and deferred maintenance of state facilities.

“All we’re asking for is more clarification on those projects and to have some information given back to us, more detailed information on those projects,” Sen. Ben Albritton, the Senate chair of that budget committee, said of the outstanding budget items.

What lawmakers did agree on was $30 million for “Enterprise Cybersecurity Resiliency.”

“It is our goal to make sure that cyber security is focused,” Albritton said.

While the cybersecurity budget is a new line item since Sunday’s budget talks, it presumably relates to two cybersecurity bills, one of which passed the House floor last week (HB 1297). The other Senate Bill (SB 1900) passed its final committee stop, Appropriations, the same day the new budget line item popped up Monday.

An analysis of the House bill stated the “the appropriation is contingent upon receipt of federal Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery funds.” The analysis of the House Bill does not specify which federal relief funds, CARES funding or funding from the American Rescue Plan, which legislators have yet to include in the state’s budget. The Senate version of the same bill did not reference federal Coronavirus relief funds. Both the House and the Senate latest budget offers list the $30 million in general revenue categories.

Cybersecurity was a priority of Rep. Jason Fischer, an electrical engineer who chairs the Government Operations Subcommittee where the House bill originated. The Florida Cybersecurity Task Force delivered a report to the Legislature earlier this year with recommended projects, audits and software procurements.

The cybersecurity bills call for Florida Digital Service, housed with the Department of Management Services (DMS), to analyze and remedy cybersecurity risks at state agencies, to upgrade IT resources to align with federal guidelines and to increase training for state agency IT professionals.

“We need to be able to have the continuity of government, and just as businesses can’t operate without the internet and things, we have those kinds of issues as well. We need to be able to move on to 21st century technology to deal with our government,” Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, House chair for that budget committee, said.

The legislation also creates the Florida Cybersecurity Advisory Council within DMS. The council would help state agencies protect against cyberattacks.

Part of the budget would go towards 15 full-time cybersecurity positions.

“Our citizens expect more. They expect it faster, and they expect it to be secure. And it’s our duty to work on meeting those issues,” Stevenson said.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for FloridaPolitics.com. Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


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