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Florida Governor's Proposed Budget Would Formalize Cybersecurity Training

Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal for the 2018-2019 fiscal year would solidify nearly a quarter-million dollars in cybersecurity training for agency leaders.

Gov. Rick Scott is recommending the state commit to funding cybersecurity training for agency leaders in his 2018-2019 state budget, which would make an annual spend of nearly a quarter-million dollars in ongoing education.

The recommendation is a high point in the state’s information technology (IT) budget for Florida’s Agency for State Technology, which the Legislature established in 2014 to set IT policy, manage related resources and oversee crucial tech projects.

This year, at AST’s request, the governor proposes making recurring an annual expense of $220,000 to provide IT security training to the security managers across 35 state agencies.

Previously, AST received the funding on a year-to-year basis, but as agency spokesperson Erin Choy pointed out, it has a “statutory responsibility” to train state agency information security personnel.

“Having a trained workforce is very important, and his recommended budget continues the training and the level of awareness that agency IT personnel should have,” she said.

“Protecting Floridians’ data and personal information is critical, and this investment will support AST as they work every day to find innovative ways to keep this information secure and make Florida a leader in information technology,” Scott said in a statement.

Eric Larson, state CIO and AST executive director, praised the governor’s commitment to cybersecurity.

“This training gives them a real-life scenario and the opportunity to prevent an attack from occurring,” Larson said in a statement.

AST, which was nearly defunded by the Legislature in May, has nevertheless worked to get the most IT training for taxpayers’ money. Earlier this year, the agency coordinated a week of onsite and virtual SANS Institute cybersecurity training for about 150 officials in three states, including more than 100 information security managers in state government.

Scott’s $87.4 billion budget proposal released Nov. 14, represents a reported $2.4 billion increase over the previous year and would add 565 new jobs. But AST’s chunk of the proposed 2018-2019 budget would decline by $1 million, from $66.8 million currently to $65.8 million.

That’s because, in keeping with other aspects of its mission, which center on maximizing IT resources and delivering more efficient enterprise-level services, AST recommended $650,000 in reductions to an equipment purchase allocation, and $350,000 in reductions to a budget area that pays for leases and lease-purchase agreements.

The governor also recommended shifting four positions from the state data center to the executive direction area of AST, to reflect the agency’s ongoing responsibility to manage data streams. The transfers will pay for the state’s new chief data officer, its geographic officer due to be hired later this year; and two research administrators, at a combined cost of nearly $180,000.

The state elevated Nancy Sampson, an agency-level IT services director, to state CDO Oct. 27. Her responsibilities will include defining a vision and strategy for state data management and governance as well as creating an enterprise-level data inventory by June 30, 2018.

Scott’s recommendations are a starting point from which Florida’s state Senate and House of Representatives will each craft their own respective state budgets when the Legislature returns to regular session in January.

The Senate and House will each pass their budgets and hold conferences next spring, to approve a final by the time the regular session ends.

Theo Douglas is assistant managing editor for Industry Insider — California, and before that was a staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes covering municipal, county and state governments, business and breaking news. He has a Bachelor's degree in Newspaper Journalism and a Master's in History, both from California State University, Long Beach.