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Florida Could Claw $40M for Cyber Grants Back to the State

A new proposal in the state Legislature could claw back $40 million in local government cybersecurity grants. The move would be a substantial blow to the state’s Local Government Cybersecurity Grant program.

Cybersecurity at the local government level could potentially take a major hit if a budget proposal currently being reviewed by the state’s Legislature is approved.

According to the Office of the State CIO’s budget, $40 million in local government cybersecurity technical assistance grants could be moved back into the state’s general fund, significantly impacting Florida’s Local Government Cybersecurity Grant program.

For context, the grant program provides various resources and cybersecurity technical assistance to the state’s local governments to improve their cybersecurity posture and resiliency.

According to a press release from the Department of Management Services, 66 of the state’s 67 counties applied for grant funding, and 94 percent of awardees agreed to integrate with the State Cybersecurity Operations Center to provide a consolidated view of the threat landscape.

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez spoke about the program last year during the Florida Public Sector Cybersecurity Summit*, stating: “This has been one of our boldest initiatives to date. It was designed to allow local governments to improve their own cyber capabilities regardless of technical expertise.”

Furthermore, she added that thanks to the grant program, several municipalities now have capabilities including asset discovery inventory, endpoint detection and response, security operation platforms, and security systems.

From a local government perspective, Robert Beach, chief technology officer for the city of Cocoa, said, “The Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Grant has been instrumental in advancing our city’s cybersecurity defenses, enabling us to implement cutting-edge security measures protecting our critical infrastructure, public safety and citizens.”

One of the primary concerns, if the program were discontinued, is that it could create significant challenges for local governments to maintain critical programs at their current level.

“The importance of continuing this partnership cannot be overstated,” Beach said. “The grant has not just been a financial aid; it’s been a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, propelling Florida to the forefront of state-supported cybersecurity.”

Nevertheless, he added, “We remain hopeful and resilient, committed to exploring all avenues to maintain and expand upon our cybersecurity initiatives.”

*The Florida Public Sector Cybersecurity Summit is presented by Government Technology, a publication of e.Republic.

This article was originally published by Industry Insider — Florida, Government Technology's sister publication.