IT Modernization

MGT money zeroed out in Senate funding bill

shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930 

There's concern among sponsors that the Technology Modernization Fund might not get new money in fiscal year 2019.

Funding for the program, which is tabbed at $150 million by House appropriators, is eliminated in a Senate bill currently moving thorough the appropriations process.

Earlier this month, House appropriators approved a spending bill that would provide $150 million in fiscal year 2019, but funding is absent from a corresponding Senate bill, which is still moving through committee. 

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), one of the co-sponsors of the Modernizing Government Technology Act that created the central fund, said during an appropriations markup he was "alarmed… to discover the subcommittee's mark zeroed out this program."

Moran went on to say the concern stems from the lack of clarity from the General Services Administration, which houses the TMF, about how the money is being spent.

Working capital funds and the details on how they are paid back can be a sticking point for appropriators.

"And now you've got a working capital fund on a government-wide level, and that makes them nervous," said Mike Hettinger, a former Hill staffer and currently a lobbyist specializing in procurement and IT issues. "If [the TMF] is going to work, it’s got to be a partnership."

The Senate funding issue hit just a few weeks after the Office of Management and Budget announced the first round of TMF awards for agencies to upgrade their aging tech.

The MGT authorizes up to $250 million in funding in each of fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and zeroing out the funding would potentially end the program before it can ever really establish a foothold.

Moran said to allay the committee’s concerns, he plans "to formulate a meaningful… amendment to require the GSA to provide specific information on how these dollars are being spent."

The amendment would require GSA to provide the committee details on proposals submitted by agencies seeking TMF dollars and detailed plans for repayment as well as updates on requests by agencies to delay repayment and information whether those extensions were granted.

"For future proposals, GSA shall provide the Committee this information at the time of award," Moran's amendment reads.

"I want to get the GSA’s attention to provide the attention we need so that [fellow MGT cosponsor Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)] and I, and perhaps others, can be effective in conference in restoring the dollars we believe are necessary to pursue the goal of rewarding good behavior within departments," Moran said.

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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