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State, Local Government Groups Call for Cybersecurity Funding

Government groups are urging Congress to create a "dedicated cybersecurity program" to fund the needs of state, local and territorial governments while they navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shutterstock/Viacheslav Lopatin
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to present new challenges for governments across the country, state and local government coalitions are asking for increased cybersecurity funding.  

Congress should authorize and fully fund "a dedicated cybersecurity program" to meet the growing needs of states, territories and local governments, argues a letter sent last week to the leaders of Congress by a group of government-focused organizations. 

That coalition includes groups like the National Governors Association, the National League of Cities, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as a number of others.  

Such a program would help governments implement "innovative cybersecurity programs" for remote work, help to better detect and defend from threats, and build ongoing relationships at all levels of government, the letter reads. 

"COVID-19 has required our workforces, educational systems and general way of life to quickly move remotely, exerting greater pressure on cybersecurity and IT professionals and increasing the risk of vulnerabilities and gaps to state and local networks," the letter reads. "Likewise, increased traffic to unemployment portals and health insurance marketplaces has created additional risks as systems are being modified or created to handle the exponential increase in demand."  

The desire for a permanent funding mechanism for state and local cybersecurity existed long before this current crisis, however. Numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced over the past year that match its description like the State Cyber Resiliency Act and the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, among others.

In February, before the COVID-19 outbreak began upending government work and daily life, the NGA asked that Congress consider passing one of these bills that would "lay the groundwork for increased funding and resources to help states develop and implement innovative cybersecurity practices."  

Lucas Ropek is a former staff writer for Government Technology.