Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy spend one of their summer sessions in Cyber 256, Basic Cyber Operations.

Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy spend one of their summer sessions in Cyber 256, Basic Cyber Operations. U.S. Air Force Photo/Raymond McCoy

Is Obama's $14 Billion Cybersecurity Request Enough?

The Obama administration is hoping that Congress signs off on a 10 percent budget increase to protect computer networks across the federal government

The White House's overall commitment to fighting hackers in the federal sphere tallies up to $14 billion.

That’s how much President Barack Obama has asked for from lawmakers to help protect all U.S. networks from threat actors -- a 10 percent increase over his fiscal 2015 total cyber proposal, acting federal Chief Information Officer Lisa Schlosser told Nextgov.

The proposed funding figure was derived by pinpointing gaps in the overall federal strategy for securing critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and transportation sector, as well as agency networks, she said. The funding would go toward, for instance, coordination with the private sector on eliminating vulnerabilities and research and development.

Among the government departments asking for more cyber resources is the Pentagon -- requesting $400 million over last year's military cyber budget for a total of $5.5 billion.

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking $587.5 million for key cyber operations, including a civilian agency network-monitoring program called EINSTEIN, its continuous monitoring services, and a "CyberSkills" initiative to better support the DHS information security workforce. Those same three efforts were budgeted at $526.3 last year.

In addition, the administration wants to spend about $20 million on a new White House cyber unit to oversee dot-gov network security, including, for the first time, making sure agencies notify victims of breaches according to a specific timetable.  

Tabulating the money spent on cybersecurity, in general, is more art than science, as the past has shown.

In 2013, then-federal CIO Steven VanRoekel claimed the White House had allotted $14 billion to cybersecurity across the entire government. The administration did not provide any dollar breakdowns, but said the sum included IT investments and agency activities related to cybersecurity that are non-IT.

The return on cyber investments also is hard to quantify. Despite spending $59 billion on data security since fiscal 2010, the government couldn’t prevent intrusions last year against the White House, the State Department and the Office of Personnel Management.