Defense Spending Red Tape Endangers Cybersecurity

August 17, 2015

Tom Risen

The government is moving too slowly to fund and acquire the latest technology, which could not only waste taxpayer dollars but also endanger federal cybersecurity. 

A panel of experts on Monday noted that the conservative procurement practices of the federal government can't keep up with the high-risk culture of tech industry startups, which innovate at a rapid pace and are increasingly a target for acquisition by larger businesses.  

Silicon Valley is one of America’s greatest economic assets, but “the political system is not good at making long-run investments with uncertain impacts,” Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve said during the panel discussion on Monday in Washington, D.C.


Michael O’Hanlon, a research director at the Brookings Institution think tank, suggested the government needs to pick up the pace of funding research and acquiring the latest technology in the quickly changing software and electronics sectors.

“The overall system is not fundamentally broken, there are parts of it that are broken, in my mind,” O’Hanlon said during the Monday event.

Cybersecurity is one area in which agencies appear to have failed to take advantage of private sector innovation. The Obama administration in June called on agencies to shore up their network security after the hack of the Office of Personnel Management exposed personal information on as many as 21 million people, including millions of federal employees with security clearances.

At roughly the same time, the Navy renewed its contract to operate its computers using Windows XP, the operating system first released in 2001 which no longer receives tech support from Microsoft. The Navy entered into a $9 million contract with Microsoft to continue to provide security patches for the now-defunct software.

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