IT Modernization

TMF awards still come with payback plans

federal CIO Clare Martorana testifies before the Senate on Sept. 28, 2021 

Federal CIO Clare Martorana testifies before a Senate subcommittee on Sept. 28, 2021

In the wake of $311 million in new Technology Modernization Fund Awards announced last week, Federal CIO Clare Martorana said that while payback flexibility is now part of the fund playbook, agencies still are projecting savings in their modernization plans.

The seven awards were the first tranche to be made after a $1 billion plus-up to the fund made under the American Rescue Plan Act. As federal CIO, Martorana chairs the board that reviews and approves TMF funding requests.

Speaking at FCW's IT Modernization Summit on Tuesday, Martorana said payment flexibility was a big part of the attraction of TMF for this round of proposers. She noted that when she served as CIO of the Office of Personnel Management, there was resistance to using the fund because "the CFO didn't really think that he would be able to commit to paying back the TMF loan."

The new flexibilities brought in new applicants – including OPM which won a $9.9 million award to focus on transitioning to zero trust. At the same time, Martorana said that agencies were including payback plans in their applications for at least some of the funding.

"You know, everybody would love to come to TMF and pay nothing back, but we do have to remain a solvent as a fund," she said. "So we do have a minimal threshold for repayment, but what we're finding is a lot of agencies in doing their project plans recognize that in out years they are going to have significant savings."

Martorana said that proposals are coming in with payback plans that include repayment at levels of up to 50% and 75%. "Not everyone is coming back at a very minimal repayment level," she said.

Martorana also said the TMF board had put in a lot of time to examine proposals under an accelerated process following the $1 billion addition to the fund.

"Board members were committing five, 10 hours a week," in addition to their full-time jobs as senior technology officials. "Reviewing over 100 proposals was really an extraordinary effort and we're still not done," she said.

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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