IT Modernization

Federal CIO is moving quickly to get TMF funds out the door

Federal CIO Suzette Kent presents opening remarks for the Women in Federal IT & Cyber event on March 29, 2018. (USDA photo by Tom Witham) 

Federal CIO Suzette Kent speaks at an event celebrating women in federal IT.

The first decisions about which agencies will receive funding from the $100 million Technology Modernization Fund could come later this week, revealed federal CIO Suzette Kent.

"Breaking news today… this time next week, the first four proposals that are moving to the second phase will actually have the letters in their hands inviting them to start that process," Kent said in an interview broadcast on the April 22 edition of the "Government Matters" public affairs program.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told appropriators April 18 nine agencies have submitted plans. Kent declined to share which agencies' projects were chosen.

For the submissions that were approved, Kent shed some light on how the seven-member TMF board, which held its first meeting March 12, made its decisions.

"Every idea that we received is a great idea, so everything the board's looked at is something that needs to be done," she said. "But the board is focused on elevating the ones that have the broadest impact across government, the most citizen impact, reusability, a lot of those key criteria."

Kent also said the board is looking for "quarterly accountability" from agencies.

"How a project team thinks about what they're going to do and demonstrate real results quarter by quarter and real impact is an important factor that we look at," she said.

Kent added that getting these projects approved and underway quickly — and agencies' ability to turn around tangible wins — are also "very important" factors.

"It's important to move quickly so we can actually deliver impact," she said.

Kent also said "sustainability is critical" to TMF success, adding, "that's also why we're working with both the technology teams and the CFO, financial teams."

One takeaway in reviewing the proposals, Kent said, was the submitted projects were in "clear alignment to the priorities that were laid out" in the Office of Management and Budget's formal guidance released Feb. 27.

"Modernization, cloud email, citizen impact around portals, things we want to do to move off legacy systems" were among the topics included in the proposal, she said.

“We also saw very thoughtful attention to how they'll deliver results and the surety of the approach to outcomes they want to achieve,” she added. “And in many of the cases, the teams were very thoughtful about how it not only benefitted their agencies, but there was broad impact across the government, whether that was building a best practice, sharing some of the lessons learned or whether the actual outcome was something that could be used by other agencies.”

One agency that did not submit a proposal for first round consideration is the Small Business Administration, deputy CIO Guy Cavallo told FCW. SBA's CIO Maria Roat serves on the board.

Asked why not, Cavallo said, "We are pursuing setting up on our enterprise fund, don't have one yet, and we need congressional authorization to do so."

"We want to pursue using our own fund, once approved and created [versus] using the TMF fund," he added.

David Shive, CIO of the General Services Administration, whose commissioner also serves on the board, told FCW after an AFFIRM event April 19 "we have some that are in the works, but I don't know if it made the first deadline."

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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