IT Modernization

Agencies have proposed more than $2B in TMF projects since new funding was approved

shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930 

The Technology Modernization Fund is in high gear, meeting 10 hours each week to assess proposals and determine "from a top-down approach" which projects it could have the most impact on in terms of providing financial support, Federal CIO Clare Martorana testified at a House hearing on IT modernization on Wednesday.

Martorana, who serves as a chair of the TMF Board, told lawmakers on the Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that 108 project proposals have been submitted from 43 federal agencies following a $1 billion addition in funds included in the American Rescue Plan. That increase in capitalization to the revolving fund was accompanied by a relaxation of payback requirements that many agencies have found daunting.

Martorana testified that submitted projects so far exceed $2 billion, with proposals still coming in. At least 75% of the new project proposals submitted to the TMF Board focus on cyber, the federal CIO said.

"I am so bullish on the Technology Modernization Fund," Martorana said. "Now that we're in a 2.0 phase with the $1 billion dollars in the American Rescue Plan funding, I see enormous possibility."

The hearing was held to assess progress on implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act and share the results of the latest FITARA scorecard, which gives agencies letter grades for performance in areas covered by the legislation.

"Throughout this pandemic, we've come to realize how vital agile IT and strong IT governance are to the success of the federal government in meeting the needs of the people we all serve," Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said at the hearing.

The latest results from that scorecard showed most agencies were just getting by with a passing "C" grade. Only one, the General Services Administration, received a score in the "A" range, with the agency earning a top "A+" rating.

Only four agencies improved their overall cyber posture so far this year, according to the latest scorecard review, while two have seen their ratings drop. The Department of Justice currently has a "D-" rating, a full letter drop from the "C-" score it received last year, while the Department of Veterans Affairs dropped to "C+" from the "B+" rating it received in December.

The vast majority of agencies maintained their previous scorecard ratings, with 18 in total receiving the same evaluation they earned at the end of 2020.

There were some improvements: The Department of Interior and the Social Security Administration went up full points, receiving two "B+" ratings. The State Department also received a slightly higher score of "C" from its previous "C-" rating.

Carol Harris, IT and cybersecurity director for the Government Accountability Office, and another witness at the subcommittee hearing said her office would work with lawmakers to continue investigating new ways FITARA can be implemented to improve governmentwide cybersecurity efforts, including the possibility of creating a new scorecard solely focused on cyber.

EIS transition

The FITARA scorecard also noted progress on the transition of agency networks to the new, $50 billion governmentwide Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contracts and moving off the old Networx contract. Agencies are expected to have 100% of their telecom inventory under EIS at the end of fiscal year 2022. Networx is set to expire at the end of May 2023.

According to the scorecard, 10 agencies received "A" grades for their transition off Networx, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Agriculture and Labor, the Social Security Administration and the Small Business Administration. The Office of Personnel Management and NASA were the only agencies receiving an "F" grade.

About the Author

Chris Riotta is a staff writer at FCW covering government procurement and technology policy. Chris joined FCW after covering U.S. politics for three years at The Independent. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president.

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