Tagged cybersecurity

President Barack Obama, with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, delivers remarks after he tours the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia, Jan. 13, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

What the White House’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan Means for Entrepreneurs

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The White House released its Cybersecurity National Action Plan that includes $3.1 billion for a Information Technology Modernization Fund to massively upgrade the government’s IT infrastructure to better protect federal networks.

Based on the recent hacks into high profile federal networks like the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the investment is way overdue. Commercial giants like Google, RSA and Intel have commended the plan saying portions of the plan are basic, but necessary.

The $3.1 billion modernization fund will be part of the $19 billion requested by the White House in cybersecurity spending for next year’s budget leaving many small businesses and entrepreneurs wondering if this new funding will benefit their businesses. The short answer is yes.

About a third of the $19 billion will go to the Defense Department. The Department of Homeland Security will also receive a considerable chunk. Both agencies have installed new initiatives to get entrepreneurs and small businesses more involved in cybersecurity programs.

The Army just released the latest iteration of its flexible contracting vehicle it uses to manage its IT infrastructure. The program called IT Enterprise Solutions–3 Services (ITES-3) is estimated to be worth $12 billion over the next nine years.

Thomas Neff, product lead for the Army’s Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, said it used feedback from small business leaders to design the program and described it as “very small business friendly.”

DHS has similarly made steps to increase innovation with startups in mind. The Cybersecurity National Action Plan emphasizes the Internet of Things naming DHS as the leader to protect the network that supports IOT under the new Cybersecurity Assurance Program.

DHS’s new Silicon Valley office, which opened in April, made IOT a priority and introduced a contract vehicle with startups in mind. Agency leaders introduced “Innovation Other Transaction Solicitations” in order to get money out the door faster to startups.

This contracting vehicle maxes out at $200,000 so contracting officer can issue them to startups in months, not years. The contract are deliberately small to allow those contracting officers to avoid some of the bureaucratic road blocks associated with higher figure deals. Last week, DHS issued its first such contract to a startup based in Santa Clara called Pulzze Systems that specializes in protecting IOT networks.

The White House doesn’t want to just hand out contracts to small businesses. It also wants to offer cybersecurity training to startups and small businesses through a partnership with the Small Business Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy. White House officials expect to reach over 1.4 million small businesses through the program.

For those interested in reading more about the Cybersecurity National Action Plan. The White House issued a fact sheet on the plan here.

— Michael Hoffman can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com