The Department of Homeland Security's fiscal year 2020 budget cuts about one-third of the funding to a non-profit entity that supports state and local governments, including their elections offices, in bolstering their cyber security posture, according to several Democratic senators.
The senators, including Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), the minority leader, said that budget provides $10.4 million to the Center for Internet Security (CIS) versus $15 million allotted in FY '19.
"We urge you to address this funding gap and fund the MS-ISAC and EI-ISAC at the level that does not result in CIS reducing or eliminating their services to their customers," the senators said in a Nov. 18 letter to Christopher Krebs, director of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
In addition to Schumer, the letter was signed by Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Gary Peters (Mich.). In a press announcement on Tuesday releasing the letter, the senators said that the New Hampshire Information Technology Commissioner brought his concerns of the funding shortfall to Hassan.
The CIS oversees two information sharing centers, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) and the Elections Infrastructure ISAC (EI-ISAC). These information sharing organizations consist of stakeholders within their respective government sectors. The center told Defense Daily that it "has no additional comment at this time."
In their letter, the senators said that the feedback they have received from state and local entities about the services provided by CIS and the ISACs has been "overwhelmingly positive." They also highlight that local governments lack the resources to defend themselves from cyber attacks and call on the federal government to provide more resources to "help these entities build their resilience and defenses."
CISA, which bills itself as the nation's risk adviser, partners extensively with the private and public sectors, including state and local governments to raise awareness of cyber security threats and to bolster the cyber security posture of its wide range of stakeholders. The Nov. 18 letter highlights CISA's partnership with the MS-ISAC as a "prime example" of its approach.
DHS and other federal agencies received praise on Tuesday from Democrat and Republican leaders of a House Homeland Security panel for their efforts in election security.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation, said at the outset of a hearing on election security ahead of the 2020 elections that "despite a lack of leadership from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security is building relationships and providing a full suite of election security services to state and local election officials."
Richmond also praised the efforts of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI, National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command and the private sector in working to strengthen election security.
Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the ranking member on the panel, also applauded CISA and its work with state and local governments that have resulted in better information sharing and more integrated efforts to improve election security.