A coalition of lawmakers in the House and Senate on Thursday introduced legislation to funnel federal funds into strengthening state and local information technology systems, following increased stress on these systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State and Local IT Modernization and Cybersecurity Act — sponsored in the House by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and in the Senate by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) — would provide $28 billion in federal aid to state and local governments to help shore up older systems in the midst of the pandemic.
These funds would be funneled through a “Public Health Emergency Information Technology Grant Program” that would address immediate challenges to IT systems during the coronavirus pandemic, and a “Modernizing Information Technology Program” to purchase new and more secure platforms.
The bill builds on legislation previously introduced by Richmond that would provide state and local authorities with the funding and resources to address cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
State and local IT officials have faced increasing challenges during the pandemic, as more activities and business has moved online at the same time that budgets have dried up.
Doug Robinson, the executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), said in a statement Thursday that the new legislation was “sincerely appreciated.”
“As states are charged with administering critically important federal programs and benefits, this legislation aims to make significant investments in modernizing state and local IT infrastructure,” Robinson said.