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Workforce, IT Highlights From the President’s Fiscal 2020 Budget

President Donald Trump released his budget proposal for fiscal 2020 on Monday, and there’s plenty in it that will affect the federal workforce.

To help you understand what proposed changes will impact you, we’ve outlined a mix of management and technology issues ranging from agency reorganizations to proposed funding for updating the technology that feds rely on to do their jobs and serve the public.

One key theme we noticed throughout the budget is modernization and using emerging technologies to move the workforce from doing low-value work to high-value work. This budget makes clear that the administration will drive government modernization by focusing on the intersection of IT; data, accountability and transparency; and workforce.

For example, the budget calls for the creation of a U.S. Federal Data Service within the Commerce Department’s Office of the Undersecretary for Economic Affairs.

Some changes will occur using existing authorities, while others will require legislative actions. The president’s budget is far from final. Congress can accept or reject these requests during the budget process.

Workforce

The president’s budget proposes a full reorganization of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), including reiterating changes that are already underway. The reorganization includes transferring elements of workforce policy and strategy functions to the Executive Office of the President, shifting background investigations functions to the Defense Department and transitioning all remaining functions to the General Services Administration (GSA). That includes oversight and transactional functions from OPM’s Human Resources Solutions (HRS), retirement services, healthcare and insurance, Office of Inspector General, and Merit System Accountability and Compliance organizations.

The budget proposes a 3.1 percent pay raise for the military and requests funding for “a full range of compensation programs, from monthly incentive pays to recently modernized retirement benefits.”

Expect to see more information on specifics about workforce reforms in the reorganization chapter of the Analytical Perspectives, which is set to be released next week.

Cyber

Federal cybersecurity is a central theme throughout the budget. The Defense Department (DoD), for example, is requesting more than $9.6 billion in 2020 “to advance DOD’s three primary cyber missions: safeguarding DOD’s networks, information, and systems; supporting military commander objectives; and defending the Nation,” according to budget documents.  In terms of DoD and cybersecurity, “the budget continues to integrate efforts and operationalize U.S. cyber strategy while scaling artificial intelligence throughout the Department.”

The budget also includes funding to support the Homeland Security Department’s (DHS) Cyber Talent Management System. Under this system, the DHS cyber workforce is exempt from many of the hiring and compensation requirements and restrictions in existing law under Title 5. The expectation is that “DHS would hire at least 150 new cybersecurity employees using this system by the end of 2020,” the budget noted.

More than $156 million is in included in the budget to fund the recently established Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. “This funding would support early-stage R&D activities that improve cybersecurity and resilience to enable the private sector to harden and evolve critical infrastructure, including protecting critical infrastructure from both natural and man-made events,” according to the budget.

IT Modernization Funding

The administration requested $150 million for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in 2020, which was created as part of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. The TMF provides seed funding for modernization projects and has already funded seven projects totaling $90 million.

The TMF received $100 million in fiscal 2018 and asked for an additional $210 million in fiscal 2019. The fund received about 12 percent of the funding requested or $25 million for the current fiscal year.

Another key component of the MGT Act is the creation of IT working capital funds (WCFs). The budget requests “necessary transfer authority to better enable agencies to operationalize these IT WCFs and fully implement flexibilities of the MGT provisions,” according to budget documents. For example, the budget proposal includes $502 million for the Transportation Department’s Working Capital Fund, which would allow the administration to consolidate IT investments.

Meanwhile, the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department would get a sizable proposed investment: $4.3 billion “for essential investments in IT.” VA’s new online portal has increased online health applications by 50 percent and VA leadership sees technology as a way to reach struggling vets looking for help.

GSA requested $25.9 million to support governmentwide management of IT reporting, including management of the Federal IT Dashboard and to establish a new project management office to oversee governmentwide implementation of Technology Business Management principles.

You can view the entire budget proposal here

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