A New Investment to Enhance Cyber Strength

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s IT systems protect a treasure trove of data related to America’s workers, including 94.8 million records of highly sensitive, personally identifiable information. We recently received a fourth Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) investment of $15.2 million dollars to strengthen the security of our IT systems and data, protecting the people who rely on us for critical information and services. 

What is TMF?

The TMF is an innovative investment program. It is overseen by the Technology Modernization board, which is comprised of government IT leaders who review proposals designed to transform how the federal government uses technology. The Department of Labor’s approved TMF investments help support America’s workers, job seekers and retirees – from providing quality data to researchers, application developers and journalists to making the labor certification process easier, faster and more cost effective for employers.

A focus on security

With our new TMF funding and support, we will accelerate implementation and deployment of a cloud-based security framework, which will protect millions of Labor’s employees, partners and the public against cyber threats, whether they’re in the office, on the road or at home. This includes a secure access service edge (SASE) solution to provide connectivity, consistent security and a better user experience. 

The investment enables us to more quickly reach a mature zero trust architecture (ZTA), which is a key mandate from the nation’s cybersecurity executive order. A zero trust model essentially treats all networks and traffic as potential threats, replacing the traditional “castle and moat” cybersecurity approach that focuses on external threats and leaves an agency vulnerable to costly insider cyber-attacks. That strategy is no longer viable in a world of increasingly sophisticated adversaries when it comes to providing access to critical services and data, such as economic reports, retirement plan violation complaints and worker protections.

The impact of additional TMF investments

The Labor Department previously received three other TMF investments. Here’s how we’ve used them:

  1. The Temporary Labor Certification Processing Modernization, a $3.5 million investment, was awarded in 2018 and completed in 2021. We modernized the temporary labor certification system and created a datahub to enable further access to the digital certification process and provide federal, cross-agency information sharing capabilities. The new system, now known as the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) system, helps U.S. employers find qualified workers faster.

  2. The Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM) Visa Modernization effort, a $7.2 million project, was awarded in 2022. It enables the secure sharing of labor certification information across the multi-agency visa processing life cycle and improves American employers’ and foreign workers’ PERM experience by reducing processing times.

  3. The ongoing Data Modernization project, a $9.6 million investment awarded in 2021, will enhance the department’s enterprise data management and analytics capabilities to ensure our data is high-quality, consistent and readily available while saving money, increasing efficiency and improving public services.

All of these investments have one thing in common: they deliver secure and user-centric technology solutions for America’s public. 


Paul Blahusch is OCIO’s chief information security officer at the U.S. Department of Labor. Follow OCIO on Twitter and LinkedIn. Are you interested in joining the OCIO Team? View available positions and apply today!