Concern – and Money – for Cybersecurity is Spreading Through the Federal Government

Partially because of the looming presidential election, and assertions of hacking-spawned leaks, cybersecurity is on the tip of many people’s tongues and, it turns out, on the receiving end of the government’s wallet. More funding and awards are going towards protecting government department’s and digital assets than ever before, and not just in obviously sensitive areas, like the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). By doing searches specifically on cybersecurity funding awards, we found something interesting happening in the federal government: interest in funding cybersecurity is spreading throughout the government, far beyond traditional centers.

The DHS and DoD talked a fair amount about funding awards for cybersecurity in 2016, mentioning it 31 times including at least 10 specific funding contracts.


The National Science Foundation (NSF), which administers a great deal of government science funding, also frequently mentions and awards funding for research into cybersecurity, such as the 74.5 million announced in October of 2015 (NSF link). More recently, however, funding has started to spread to other areas of the federal government, which might not be so obviously interested in cybersecurity.

For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services announced its first award ever to fund cybersecurity upgrades on October 4, 2016: HHS awards funding to help protect health sector against cyber threats (HHS Link).

Overall, the number of different federal departments, agencies, and sub-agencies talking about cybersecurity funding has increased by 113%  from 2011 to 2015 (from 29 to 62). In 2015, departments ranging from the National Credit Union Association to the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued grants or calls for funding.

While some funding is going to bolstering the government’s aging and outdated cybersecurity infrastructure – in the case of the HHS award above a previous report of testimony by the Chief Information Officer of HHS warned of possible security vulnerabilities back in May of 2016 – other funding sources are going towards general education and training about possible dangers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is funding a new education program through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) to create job training programs so employers will have a wide pool of cybersecurity professionals to use for hiring.

As you can see in our other post about cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, interest is also growing in Congress for action, and funding, to deal with cybersecurity. The HHS example above demonstrates, that when the government starts talking about cybersecurity (as the agency did in May) that can lead to valuable funding of cybersecurity opportunities for well-informed businesses and contractors.

The Internet of Things and Cybersecurity

The recent passing of H.Res 847 ‘Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives about a national strategy for the Internet of Things to promote economic growth and consumer empowerment‘ is a significant one. Through this resolution, Congress is making progress towards development of a comprehensive strategy to encourage safe, new, technologies while fostering economic growth.

A key item within H.Res 847 recognizes the need to “implement reasonable privacy and cybersecurity practices and protect consumers’ personal information to increase confidence, trust, and acceptance of this emerging market”, but thus far cybersecurity practices for general consumers have remained firmly in the hands of private companies and has been generally considered as an abstract concept. Cybersecurity has long been a buzzword; but it has generally been removed from its context. The fact that the relationship between cybersecurity and the Internet of Things is now being explored indicates the growth of a broader understanding of cybersecurity as being enmeshed within the daily lives of individuals.

This understanding has been slow to build momentum. Agencies have consistently discussing IoT for several years, but it is only within the past two years that this topic has started gaining traction among members of Congress. For example, the following timeline drawn from voxgov shows the discussion of IoT in 2013.


As of 2016, however, use of the term ‘internet of things’ is starting to gain some momentum among members of congress, and the contrast between what they are saying and what the agencies are saying has become less pronounced.


By using voxgov to provide a window into the growing federal government conversation around the IoT and cybersecurity, users can interrogate U.S. Federal Government documents to gain new insight into the government conversation. Using the data presented above, for example, it is obvious that the IoT is increasingly becoming part of the cybersecurity discussion; a fact which is verified by the recent passing of H.Res.847 as well as through a review of recent releases related to IoT. Viewing the data in this way indicates a new trend: that Congress is beginning to contextualize cybersecurity as an everyday consideration – that it understands its context within the Internet of Things.

Election Special! Free Access to 2016 Election Pages

Sometimes during this long ordeal of an election, it can feel like there is no good news to be found, regardless of your political bent or candidate preference. Well, we here at voxgov know how you feel, so we’ve decided to brighten the gloomy electoral clouds with a little sunshine and offer a free peek into our database for election-related material!

What Does this Mean?

We’re now announcing the public release of a searchable database for candidates involved in the 2016 elections. The collection consists of social media and official releases for candidates for all House, Senate and Gubernatorial contests, as well as the Presidential candidates. Anyone can now access our trove of 2016 election-related data and releases, track your favorite races, compare candidates, follow the presidential (and unpresidential) debate on social media. To dive in, go right here.

What Can You Do?

For some analysis and sample searches, check out his post on how many Democratic and Republican candidates talked about the first presidential debate and what was discussed during the presidential nomination conventions. Or take a look at what the two major party presidential candidates are saying about ‘jobs’.

You can search the social media, press releases and other news from both of the two presidential candidates on the Presidential tab. Or take a look at their competing twitter feeds. And track all of the congressional races here.

Searching works as it does in most databases, type in what you want and use boolean terms (AND to find examples of combined terms, OR to find everything that mentions both terms, and use quotes ” to get an exact match).

If you like the election pages, and you and your organization are interested in getting access to our full database of government documents and research tools contact us here.

Happy searching!


Press Release Election Special

Election Tracker: Debates and Conventions, Part 1

The first debate between Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has concluded at Hofstra University, and while it might take a while to see if the country has recovered we do have some data on what the political class were talking about before, during and after the rumble on Long Island. (For added perspective, we’re also including an analysis of what was being said during each party’s convention over the summer).

First Presidential Debate

Held on the night of September 26th, 2016, the first debate was much more popular, according to number of mentions, with Democratic candidates. These numbers were generated by searching the voxgov database with the terms ‘Debate’ and ‘#debatenight’ during the period of September 26-27.

Democratic Candidates – 1,098

Republican Candidates – 472

That’s a pretty remarkable difference, considering the high profile nature of a presidential debate and the scrutiny this particular one was under. Does it demonstrate an enthusiasm gap between the candidates from the two different parties?

It does, however, seem to continue a trend we saw in the two party’s national conventions, when it was Democrats who were often the most active, even during their rival’s convention.

Republican Convention

The Republican National Convention (RNC) was held in Cleveland, OH from July 18-21. (We included the days surrounding the convention as well.)

Donald Trump was the most referenced name during the RNC (not a surprise), but what were the other big terms to come out of the gathering?

Term Mentions
#RNCinCLE 1,086
Veterans 423
Violence 398
Prayers 343
Police Officers 246
Shooting 242

On the day Donald Trump was nominated, current Democrats were the most prolific, followed by Republican Candidates, current Republicans, Democratic Candidates, and Independents.

Democratic Convention

The Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia, PA from July 25th-29th. (We included the days surrounding the convention as well.)

Among politicians (both current officeholders and major candidates), unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton topped the trending names during the Democratic National Convention. Other top terms:

Term Mentions
#DemsinPhilly 1,521
Women 636
Veterans 411
#ImWithHer 275
#BetterWay 204
Gun 181


On the day of Hillary Clinton’s nomination, Democratic Candidates topped other groups with the most releases, followed by current Republicans, Republican Candidates, current Democrats and Independents.


Interestingly, during both conventions it was politicians from the Democratic Party that were the most active group, perhaps saying something the enthusiasm of current Democrats towards their nominee, and Democratic candidates desire to attack the Republican nominee. This trend seems to be continuing down the stretch of the election, if the gap in interest in talking about the first presidential debate is significant. We’ll continue to update our tracking as the election goes on, or you can do your own research using voxgov’s enormous database of information from the US government!

Federal Agencies Increasingly Linking Climate Change and Extreme Weather

In the continuing debate about climate change among politicians (scientists almost universally agree that it is happening), one issue that has recently emerged is linking climate change to increased chances and/or increased severity of storms. So we wondered, is the idea that climate change is influencing storms gaining traction?

A search covering 2013 shows the two terms “extreme weather” and “climate change” from late 2013 shows some general interest:


If you have a voxgov account, see the search here.

The big spikes correspond to amendments to bills, which included mentions of the issue mostly pushed by liberal legislators (in this case, mostly Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)). In 2014, interest grew as you can see by the top range of the graph and the spike in agency interest in October:


Another big spike occurred in the end of October 2015:


As you can see by looking at the Y-axis of the graphs, the raw number of mentions is getting larger as time goes on: from a high of 82 in 2013 to 139 in 2015. In addition, we can also see an increase in Federal Agencies using the terms together, from a low number in 2013 to over a 125 mentions around October 20th, 2015.

So who is saying it?

Out of the Federal Agencies the largest, unsurprisingly was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (UFWS), Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Office of the President, and the Departments of Energy and State. The big shift seems to have happened in 2009 when mentions jumped to 143 from 56 the previous year, and picked up speed after 2012 – almost doubling in 2013 and 2014.

One of the earlier reports from the NOAA in 2008 highlights the risk of an increase of extreme weather due to climate change, but it stood out back then as one of only 56 other releases that year to mention the two. Now, an article from the NOAA linking recent devastating floods in Louisiana to climate change is one of 11 in the last week (including a handful from the NOAA)



The increasing frequency could be a result of growing alarm in the Federal government about climate change, further scientific evidence linking extreme weather and climate change, or acknowledgement that arguments highlighting this link are effective at attracting attention. Either way, this trend only further highlights the government’s, and scientist’s, alarm over the threats posed by climate change.

By looking at this trend we not only see what the government is saying, both over time and in snap shots, but how it is saying it. Given this trend, we can reasonably expect government language, planning, research and spending related to the correlation between extreme weather and climate change to only increase in the future. This is useful (though frightening) to our daily lives, but can also help companies and institutions that deal with the government plan ahead. It is likely that further regulations will be enacted to control the sources of climate change, and policies to mitigate the effects, such as extreme weather and the associated consequences of it, are also likely to come out of the federal government in the future. In this report, for instance, we can see recent releases from the EPA drawing links between aircraft emissions and negative health effects of climate change and a presidential proclamation about disaster preparedness that specifically mentions disasters related to extreme weather and climate change. In addition to this trend, we can also see how a little poking around using search in the ever-expanding voxgov database can reveal trends as they rise to prominence, and provide insight about both the past, and the future of the government.