WASHINGTON — President Obama proposed increasing federal funding to strengthen the government’s cybersecurity, expand resources for trade negotiations and enforcement and crack down on counterfeit products in the federal budget blueprint he sent to Congress on Tuesday.
Obama’s $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal year 2017 that begins Oct. 1 would increase funding for all federal agencies engaged in thwarting cyber attacks and improving public-private sector communication, as well as boost funding for trade agencies.
It is Obama’s last budget proposal in office and, as with past blueprints, it is not expected to be enacted in its entirety because Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, oppose many of the president’s initiatives and will pass their own spending legislation stacked with their priorities.
On cybersecurity, Obama is seeking $19 billion in funding for all federal government agencies in his budget blueprint, a 35 percent increase above the $14 billion allotted for cybersecurity in 2016.
Obama unveiled a Cybersecurity National Action Plan Tuesday in advance of the budget release. As part of the plan, the administration issued an executive order creating a new Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity that will be composed of business and technical leaders from the private sector, as well as appointed lawmakers to develop recommendations on actions that can be taken over the next decade to bolster cybersecurity defenses. The plan also calls for the establishment of a federal chief information security officer within the Office of Management and Budget and the launch of a cybersecurity awareness campaign focusing on “multifactor authentication.”
The administration’s new plan comes in the wake of a string of high-profile cyber attacks that have hit the government and private sector at stores such as Target and Home Depot in the past few years, exposing private financial and personal data of millions of federal employees and consumers.
“It is encouraging to see the federal government put this front and center,” said Nicholas Ahrens, vice president of privacy and cybersecurity at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Some of the aspects of the plan really mirror what the private sector has been doing for awhile.”
For example, having a chief security information officer is something that is “ubiquitous” across the retail and private sector, Ahrens noted.
“There is also a fair amount called for in investment in things like education on cybersecurity,” Ahrens said. “We think that’s incredibly important. There is a shortage of cybersecurity talent in the workforce. Our companies struggle mightily sometimes to retain top talent they need to have to be effective. The more the federal government can do to enhance cybersecurity education, the better it is for all of us.”
Trade is another area important to the industry and where Obama is seeking to boost federal funding.
“The budget supports the administration’s commitment to a comprehensive regional strategy in Asia and the Pacific that reinforces a rules-based order and advances security, prosperity and human dignity across the region,” the White House said. “For instance, the budget provides the necessary resources to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a historic, high-standard trade agreement with 11 countries of the region that levels the playing field for American workers and American businesses.”
The proposal would also provide funding to ensure the U.S. will uphold several commitments to help African countries, including in the areas of trade and electricity.
Funding for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the lead agency in trade negotiations, would increase to $59 million from about $55 million under the proposal. Another key trade agency, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, would receive a $28 million boost in funding to $521 million under the President’s plan. The ITA houses the Office of Textiles & Apparel and leads major export initiatives. The proposal would maintain funding of $20 million for the SelectUSA program that promotes reshoring and attracting new foreign investment.
The budget for Customs and Border Protection, which makes seizures of counterfeit goods and monitors cargo containers and the flow of commerce through U.S. ports, would be increased to $13.4 billion.
“It is always good to have a budget increase, especially in this year where it is the final one for the Obama administration,” said Julia Hughes, president at that U.S. Fashion Industry Association Hughes. “It is really important that they recognize the need to fund trade policy initiatives that are still a part of their agenda.”
Hughes also applauded the increase in funding for the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, which would see an increase to $101 million from $86 million.
“Certainly, for the fashion industry and companies that work closely with ILAB and the administration in support of efforts to promote workers’ rights and enhance monitoring of labor commitments, I think that is a positive,” Hughes said. “It will allow ILAB to provide more technical assistance on workers’ rights issues.”