The Government Accountability Office said it would approve the use of private funds to build a new cybersecurity program for some of the biggest tech companies, including Google, Apple and Facebook.
The decision is a significant development that could reshape how the Government Accountability Board works and what the Federal Government can do to protect the country’s information systems, the watchdog said in a statement.
The board’s budget request for fiscal year 2018 includes $8.5 billion for a new program, the most for any agency since fiscal year 2012.
The agency has been seeking to expand the agency’s cybersecurity efforts since 2016, when it created a cybersecurity center in Washington to work with the private sector.
A $2 billion increase in the Government Funds Authorization Act passed last month would expand the cybersecurity program to $7.5 million, up from $4.5.
But the Federal Accountability Office’s new guidance to the GAO does not require any additional funding for the new program.
The Federal Communications Commission will also receive $5.5 to $5 million for cybersecurity assistance, the GAOs guidance said.
The GAO, which is made up of seven bipartisan members, is not required to disclose the number of contractors or employees it has hired for cybersecurity.
The technology firms that have expressed interest in the program, which was created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, include Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. The program is part of a larger cybersecurity push led by the Office of Management and Budget.