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27 Federal Grants for Local Government Cybersecurity

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The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found 27 federal grants that could help state and local governments beef up their cybersecurity, even though these grants weren't initially meant for that purpose.

Though grants from agencies like the Interior Department, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and Federal Emergency Management Agency were initially intended for purposes such as climate change and counterterrorism, they now present opportunities to bolster cybersecurity. The GAO report emphasizes the growing vulnerability of essential state and local services, like utilities, healthcare, and public safety, due to their increasing reliance on the internet.

These grants, from eight different federal agencies, added up to about $827 million between 2019 and 2022. Some agencies did track how this money was used for cybersecurity, like buying new software and tech gear, but not all of them did.

The agencies have rules and checks in place to keep an eye on these grants. They review progress reports and how the money's spent to make sure it's used correctly. While people from different groups and agencies didn't mention problems specifically with applying for these grants, they did talk about the overall challenges with the federal grant process. Some smaller governments struggle with the paperwork, especially when they don't have much experience with grant writing. It can also be tough for them to hang onto staff who know how to write these grants.

This isn't the first time the GAO's talked about issues with federal grants. They've mentioned before that having enough skilled staff is a big deal when it comes to managing these grants properly. This indicates a need for improved capacity within these organizations to leverage available resources effectively.

The report underscores the severe repercussions of cyber threats, citing instances where attacks disrupted operations, compromised sensitive data, and even halted public services. The number of examples we could mention is daunting...

The GAO urges state and local governments to tap into these grants, citing examples where agencies like FEMA allocated 10% of their funding to bolster cybersecurity across all states. Similarly, the Election Assistance Commission directed $155.7 million toward election security, with some funds utilized during the pandemic to enhance absentee voting systems.

Here are the agencies and number of grants that they offer:

To read the full report and see the specific grant programs, click here


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