Washington’s cuts to federal IT budgets could open the door for private IT solutions

October 14, 2014

With all of the highly sensitive data the federal government stores and accesses on a daily basis, one would think that keeping high-level workflows secure would be of the utmost importance. Yet as the new fiscal year approaches, Forbes reported that budget challenges have forced the federal government's hand to make difficult cuts – ones that included the IT budget.

IT budgets cut – will cybersecurity fall to the wayside?
As Forbes wrote, cuts to the federal IT budget may in turn lead to cuts in cybersecurity capabilities. This is a risky move and has implications not only for government employees and agencies, but the American people. Federal agencies must balance security concerns with the rest of the functionality needed to make their IT infrastructures work efficiently. In other words, they need to get the most bang for their buck.

While efficiency is key, especially when it comes to a cash-strapped agency trying to save money, recent security breaches in both the private and public sectors have more than underlined the need for systems that can repel attackers. Forbes noted that while investing in cybersecurity may be expensive, agencies should consider that fact that a successful attack on their systems will be even more expensive not only in financial terms, but in the loss of public trust such a breach would engender.

Washington a new cybersecurity hub?
Sure, IT budgets for individual agencies have been slashed, but that doesn't mean the federal government isn't working on finding suitable cybersecurity solutions. The Washington Post reported that the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Rockville is actively working to foster innovation in the security sector.

Through the center, economic development officials are looking to attract both startups and established cybersecurity solution providers alike in an attempt to address two problems at once. Officials hope that their efforts will bring high-paying jobs to the region as well as create a culture of innovation that the federal government can use to its own benefit.

This initiative represents a billion-dollar opportunity for companies that can provide the government with cost-effective, efficient security measures that will allow them to bolster security without breaking the bank. A private-public partnership may be what makes Washington the new IT hotbed.

"The timing is right for various stakeholders to collaborate because they all see a need and they're all scared of the implications of security breaches and data breaches," said Joseph Jaja, a professor of computer and electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Washington Post.