Q&A: Federal Spending Resources on cybersecurity

December 26, 2015
Mr. James R. (Librarian) Jacobs

Question: Are there any official government resources where this information is published? I am looking for a statistic along the lines of "The government spends $___ million on cybersecurity." From what I have seen for biosecurity, for example, many departments have some money set aside for biosecurity, but there isn't one place where one large number is published (unless an outside person consolidates these budgets into a singular dollar amount as some sort of project).

Answer: These are tricky numbers to nail down. As you note, “cyber security” is something that many executive agencies spend $$ on (e.g. this article notes 11 different agencies). The same is true for nuclear defense and bio security. Note that “cyber security” and “bio security” are different concepts and will not be found in the same place in the budget. I found several sites that noted $14 billion on “cyber security” in Obama’s the FY16 budget. When you cite these figures, be sure to note where they’re coming from and explain what then numbers mean.

Be that as it may, there are a few places that I generally go to to answer these questions:

 

  1. White House Office of Management and Budget (including fact sheets on different topics and historical statistical tables)
  2. Congressional hearings, reports, documents and CRS reports including the appropriations process (every agency submits an annual budget which can be found in the appropriations documents). Proquest Congressional Publications database.
  3. Governmental and non-governmental watchdog groups. I love the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as well as Congressional Research Service (CRS) (available in the Proquest Congressional Publications database). Most hot topics have NGOs that track, do research and report on the topic. Check out Stanford Library's NGO Search Engine for more.
  4. News databases. Access World News is the best, but you can also do google news searches or general google searches. A good tip with google searching is to append your search to limit to .gov domain. e.g. “cyber security site:*.gov” (the “*” tells google to only search sites with a .gov domain).

 

Here are some articles I found in my brief search that may be of interest: