Senate advances spending bill without TMF funding
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Sep 17, 2019
A Senate subcommittee advanced a spending bill Sept. 17 that zeros out new funding for the central Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) authorized under the Modernizing Government Technology Act.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a Senate sponsor of the MGT Act, spoke against the spending cut in a markup session of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.
"This is an investment not an expenditure," Moran said, urging colleagues to consider restoring the TMF when the bill is considered by the full Appropriations Committee.
The Trump administration proposed a $150 million boost to the no-year revolving fund established by the MGT Act. The House of Representatives approved a $35 million addition. A spokesperson for Moran told FCW via email that the lawmaker was seeking "robust funding" but didn't offer a dollar amount.
Backers of the MGT Act have been down this road before, as Moran noted in his remarks.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who served as chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee in the last Congress, was dubious about the oversight of TMF funds and overall effectiveness of the program. Moran is hoping to convince the current subcommittee chairman Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) of the program's merit. There is also the option of offering an amendment when the bill is considered by the full committee.
The status of the TMF was a bit of a sideshow amid the drama of the government shutdown. Eventually, lawmakers added $25 million to the fund, which launched in fiscal year 2018 with a $100 million infusion.
So far, TMF has funded seven projects at five agencies. Projects are selected by a board that includes the federal CIO and other top technology officials, with individual awards ranging from $3.5 million to $20.6 million. According to the Sept. 12 update of the TMF website, agencies have spent $29 million of the total $125 million allotted the fund. Agencies are expected to repay the TMF -- whether their IT modernization projects save money or not. If there's a common theme to the projects, it's an effort to shift agency service delivery from expensive legacy systems to commercial cloud providers.
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.