New funds for telework, IT support are part of OMB’s coronavirus response request

Several agencies need tens of millions more in supplemental funding for teleworking technology, a letter from OMB shows.
White House, OMB
(Ted Eytan / Flickr)

Federal agencies are asking for millions of dollars in increased IT funding for telework and other functions, a new letter from the Office of Management and Budget to congressional leaders shows.

OMB’s total request is $45.8 billion, covering all types of government functions, from lab work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to losses in revenue at Amtrak. The letter does not have line-item requests for more IT and software licenses, but several sections specifically mention telework and other pressures on their networks.

The $1 billion request for the Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, says telework technology will be part of its extra expenses in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The General Services Administration requests $2.5 million for its 18F digital services team to develop a coronavirus website.


Some agencies have found that “maximum telework” is putting a strain on their networks. The Department of Energy has found its systems can’t handle all of its employees teleworking simultaneously, Melody Bell, associate deputy assistant secretary for resource management, said Tuesday.

Several parts of DOE requested a total of $29 million for services that would include purchasing IT, licensing software and increased cybersecurity costs as more workers work remotely.

Beyond telework, agencies will also face increased pressures on their IT systems as they process more claims and paperwork in certain areas. Some examples: The VA’s health system is preparing for a potential surge in patients. The Department of Agriculture is expecting to process more financing applications. And the Treasury Department wants more funds to “enhance IRS information technology capacity to respond and interact with taxpayers.”

Lawmakers are planning to fund OMB’s request as part of the economic stimulus legislation that Congress is writing in response to the pandemic, aides told CNN.

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