States need to be more specific with their federal budget requests to defend election infrastructure from cyberattacks, a top Trump administration official said.
“Rather than just say, ‘We need money, give us money,’” states should be more precise in their requests, said Christopher Krebs, head of the national protection and programs directorate.
They should say “we need X amount of money to address X threat,” Krebs advised, while speaking at a Washington Post event July 19. “We need to be much more precise.”
States have received access to an extra $380 million in federal money to protect elections from cyberattacks and hackers as part of the 2018 spending bill.
In 2016, hackers tried to break into at least 21 state election systems. To date, there has been no indication that the tabulation of votes or the registration database was altered. However, the U.S. intelligence community has warned that Russia may target the 2018 midterm elections.
Krebs said he has been on a listening tour with secretaries of state across the country for the past six months.
A more precise budget request is “going to help inform and drive the conversation on the Hill,” Krebs said.
“A general statement of ‘I need a billion dollars,' well, for what?” Krebs asked.
Every state has received money from the new election security funds, according to government data. California has received the most, at $34.6 million. The Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa have received the least, all receiving $600,000.