IT Modernization

Oversight Dems push for $1B boost to TMF

tech budget 

A group of 11 House Democrats, mostly from the Oversight and Reform Committee, are asking that a $1 billion boost for the Technology Modernization Fund, offered in previous pandemic relief legislation, be included in the next supplemental appropriation.

"Throughout this global health crisis, millions of Americans facing illness, unemployment, food insecurity, and an inability to pay their mortgages or rent have looked to the federal government for help," the lawmakers wrote in a July 24 letter to House leaders and top appropriators. "Yet despite urgent Congressional action to provide unprecedented levels of economic assistance, those in need have had their misery exacerbated by a broken IT infrastructure that has prevented them from receiving timely support."

A proposed $1 billion boost to the Technology Modernization Fund was included in Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, passed by the House in May. That bill was not picked up by the Senate, but now, with enhanced unemployment benefits and eviction protections set to expire, the Senate and the Trump administration is facing pressure to pass a new round of stimulus and relief legislation.

House lawmakers, including Oversight Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) point out that technology failures have hindered access to state-level unemployment insurance systems and to Small Business Administration emergency loans.

"The fate of the world’s largest economy and millions of American households rely on the ability of government IT systems to deliver in an emergency," the letter states. "In many respects, those IT systems have not delivered during the pandemic and that should galvanize us all to action."

One notable name not on the letter is that of Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a sponsor of the original legislation that established the TMF. However, one of the signers, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) has drummed up bipartisan support for funding state-level technology improvements as part of the next COVID-19 relief package.

The Technology Modernization Fund, capitalized at $150 million through several appropriations rounds, currently supports nine projects across six agencies, according to the most recent update of the fund's website in June. So far, TMF projects have collectively spent about $50 million on efforts to push agency systems to cloud or managed services. Proposals for TMF funding are vetted by a board that includes the federal CIO and senior officials from the General Services Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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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