IT Modernization

Budget proposal includes $150M for tech modernization fund

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President Donald Trump's $1.4 trillion budget proposal for 2020 boosts the central Technology Modernization Fund and gives agencies a push to launch their own working capital funds for IT.

The proposal includes $150 million for a central fund -- an addition that would more than double the total TMF money. Additionally, the Department of Transportation is seeking $502 million for a working capital fund to help consolidate IT projects from across the agency. The Department of Labor is also looking for $20 million to transfer from several programs to a working capital fund to be administered by the agency CIO.

According to the most recent congressional scorecard covering agency compliance with IT acquisition and modernization mandates, only a handful of agencies have launched working capital funds in line with what was authorized by the Modernizing Government Technology Act.

Mike Hettinger, a former congressional staffer who lobbies on IT and management issues, said that some agencies are facing a legacy of restraint on the use of working capital funds for technology --some are coded into past appropriations bills and some are cultural.

"There's no comprehensive list of why agencies do or don't have the authority," Hettinger told FCW, but he noted that many agencies face a heavy lift when it comes to advocating for a revolving fund.

"You have to be into it, if you are a CIO or [chief financial officer] who may make that request," he said.

Hettinger noted that a reauthorization of the MGT Act, which expires at the end of the current fiscal year, might help nudge appropriators into backing Trump's request to fund the program. While there's no legal requirement for reauthorization, Hettinger said "it's a simple show of commitment on the part of Congress" that could add momentum to the funding push.

The revolving funds are "a different way of doing business," said Robert Shea, a former Office of Management and Budget official who is now with Grant Thornton. "But agencies should take advantage of it, because otherwise it's going to go away."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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