House Dems offer $35 million for TMF

The central tech fund gets a slight increase in 2020, but proposed funding for the federal CIO office is down almost 50% from 2019 levels.

shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930
 

House Democrats plan to allocate $35 million for the Technology Modernization Fund in the 2020 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill.

That's quite a bit less than the $150 million sought by the administration in its budget request, but a significant uptick from the $25 million added to the fund in 2019.

The TMF was authorized by the Modernizing Government Technology Act in 2018. It allows agencies to access money for tech upgrades that are approved by a board chaired by the federal CIO and including senior tech officials from the General Services Administration and the Department of Homeland Security and others who serve on a rotating basis.

TMF launched with $100 million in funding in the 2018 appropriation and was upped by $25 million last year. The original legislative proposal for TMF would have authorized a $3 billion fund, but the effort was dramatically scaled back as the bill wended its way through Congress.

As of March 12, the board had approved seven projects, with a ceiling value of about $89.4 million. Only about $7 million has actually been spent on TMF projects so far, according to the most recent data publicly available.

Projects range from an ambitious plan to put federal workforce scheduling and payroll on a cloud-based shared service platform called NewPay that includes $20 million of TMF funding to a more modest $3.5 million plan to digitize Department of Labor certification of work visas.

Agencies that draw on the TMF are expected to pay back the fund as the project progresses -- typically about 12 months after each disbursement. The reimbursement requirement is not contingent on cost savings.

The draft appropriations bill also proposed $15 million for the Information Technology Oversight and Reform function at the Office of Management and Budget, which includes the federal CIO office. That's down from $28.5 million in funding obtained in the 2019 appropriation.

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