The latest appropriations package being proposed by House Democrats includes funding for the Technology Modernization Fund created by the Modernizing Government Technology Act.
The newest appropriations package proposed by House Democrats includes funding for the Technology Modernization Fund created by the Modernizing Government Technology Act, but far less than the $100 million it received last year.
Previous bills designed to end the partial government shutdown followed legislation passed under unanimous consent in the Republican controlled Senate late last year.
The new bill, introduced Jan. 17, proposes $25 million in fiscal year 2019 appropriations for TMF. Last Congress, the House approved $150 million in funding for the fund before Senate appropriators zeroed out the fund over transparency issues.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chief sponsor of the MGT Act, which authorized $250 million for the fund, repeatedly expressed confidence in recent months that the issues raised by Senate appropriators had been resolved.
Of the $100 million the fund received in fiscal year 2018, the TMF Board, the entity that decides where that money goes, still has not distributed the entire appropriation. About $23.5 million remains unawarded. Six projects from five agencies have received $76-plus million. To date, agencies have submitted about 40 proposals vying for a slice of modernization dollars.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pledged not to take up any appropriations bills the president won't sign, so it's unlikely this bill will become law.
Mike Hettinger, a former Hill staffer and currently a lobbyist specializing in procurement and IT issues, said the change signals some movement.
"It's important the committee provided some funding for the TMF," he said. "This action will allow industry and OMB to continue to work with Congress to prove the value of the fund going forward with an opportunity to increase funding levels in future years," he said.
The initial appropriations bill, introduced in the House Jan. 3 included $19 million for the Office of Management and Budget's Information Technology Oversight and Reform, which houses the United States Digital Service. The newest bill also bumps the federal CIO funding from $19 million in a Jan. 3 bill to $28.5 million. An explanatory statement accompanying the legislation cites the IT Dashboard, the OMB Policy Library and IT policy compliance tracking as specific investments.
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