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Proposed NIST Budget Cuts Trigger Cybersecurity Talent Concerns

Credit: National Institute of Technology and Standards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), known for offering cybersecurity guidance that MSSPs and MSPs leverage, will see $300 million less from the federal government for manufacturing, scientific measurements and facilities maintenance under President Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal.

At a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology, Republicans defended the proposal as just a proposal while Democrats criticized it for being short-sighted.

Managed security service partners (MSSPs) and corporate security teams use NIST standards and guidelines as baselines for their security programs, including security best practices and threat mitigation strategies.

NIST in May 2019 is slated to conduct a second workshop for its Privacy Framework, an enterprise risk management tool meant as a companion to its earlier Cyber Security Framework. Organizations will be able to use the guidelines to better identify, assess, manage, and communicate about privacy risks.

President Trump's Proposed NIST Budget

Trump’s budget request would drop the NIST budget to $687 million next year from the $986 million allocated for fiscal 2019. It would do away with the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which funds centers in the U.S. intended to improve manufacturing cybersecurity and other functions. About 400 NIST scientists and engineers would lose their jobs if the cuts ultimately gain Congressional approval, Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI), who chairs the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, said at the hearing. (per FedScoop)

The President's request would cut the NIST's construction budget for research facilities by about 43 percent to $60 million and trim funding for advanced communications, networks and scientific data systems by nearly 41 percent. NIST measurement science laboratory programs would lose $26.9 million, or 12 percent, and advanced manufacturing would lose $30 million, or 20 percent. (via Federal News Network)

Stevens complained that the cuts were too drastic to support NIST’s research purpose. “For those of us who have visited the NIST campus in Gaithersburg we understand why NIST has more than $300 million in deferred maintenance, and is undertaking major renovations of some of their laboratories,” she said.

Potential Good News

Areas that would gain under the 2020 budget cuts include artificial intelligence research with $8 million more, and microelectronics research and quantum information sciences, each with a $10 million bump. NIST’s Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, which examines next generation wireless technology such as 5G, is fully funded in the 2020 budget. In addition, cybersecurity and privacy would get a $1.2 million boost in funding, up slightly more than one percent, and the 14-institute Manufacturing USA network would receive a $200,000 increase.

“NIST is committed to doing the very best it can with a budget that we are ultimately allocated through this process,” said Walter Copan, NIST director, in testimony at the hearing.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.