Modernization

TMF's how-to guide for remaining $55 million

modernization (alphaspirit/Shutterstock.com) 

The seven-member board steering IT modernization dollars is telling agencies how they can get a piece of the remaining $55 million in funding.

The Technology Modernization Fund Board, which oversees the $100 million pot for fiscal year 2018 created by the Modernizing Government Technology Act and managed by the General Services Administration, detailed why it chose the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development as its first award recipients.

DOE, which was awarded $15 million for its proposal to accelerate consolidation from 64 different email systems to just one, submitted a project that "will serve as a model case for other agencies -- a core tenant of the criteria for TMF funding," the board states in its justification for awards.

"The operational benefits of this project include cost savings, increased efficiency, improved cyber posture and decreased operational risk," the board explains. "Without this funding, DOE would need to conduct the migration of the remaining systems using a piecemeal approach, subject to fund availability."

The justification also notes that Energy's proposal "accelerates a long overdue modernization" by using commercial software.

HUD was awarded the largest amount of the first three agencies -- $20 million for its plan to migrate five legacy servers to a cloud-based Java application suite.

According to HUD estimates, the justification notes, the agency's plan to modernize code and migrate the serves will save $8 million annually, "enabling payback and generating working capital to transform additional legacy systems."

The Department of Agriculture, which received $10 million, is planning to create Farmers.gov, a customer experience portal aggregating information on disparate agency programs and services.

"This is an opportunity to update legacy systems and re-engineer processes and systems to reduce improper payments, address and resolve repeated financial audit findings, and properly connect these agency systems to the USDA common financial system," the board states. "Without this funding, USDA would need to delay integrating this part of the process into the consolidated Farmers.gov citizen experience portal in a later year when funds became available."

It's worth noting these payments must be reimbursed within five years. While some agencies have expressed trepidation about applying for the central fund dollars, the board also wants more agencies to submit proposals for consideration of the remaining $55 million.

"There is still time for agencies to submit proposals, and they are strongly encouraged to do so," the board states.

Liz Cain, executive director of the TMF Program within GSA's program management office, explained during a proposal workshop the process through which agencies' initial proposals are vetted.

"When an initial project proposal comes in from an agency, our team, as well as [OMB], will give it a quick review, and if we see anything where we think the board will immediately have a question or want some more information, we'll work with that agency to include that in a revision… so it's ready to go before the board," she said. "We've usually been able to bring proposals before the board within the month they were submitted, and maybe even within a week or two."

Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Alan Thomas added that once agencies make the oral presentation phase of pitching the board, it's beneficial "to have a little vignette that gives us a sense about why this is important."

Earlier this week, House appropriators approved a bill that would allocate another $150 million for the centralized fund in fiscal year 2019.

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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