TMF invests in major disability employer's modernization efforts

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The Technology Modernization Fund will invest $1.7 million to support modernization efforts at one of the nation's largest employers of people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.

The Technology Modernization Fund board has announced a new investment in a small federal agency that serves as a major source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. 

The $1.7 million investment in AbilityOne Commission will support ongoing modernization efforts for the independent federal agency's Procurement List Information Management System (PLIMS) software, which serves as a liaison between employers of people with disabilities and training and job opportunities. The program supports one of the largest sources of employment for blind people and others with significant disabilities. 

TMF Board chair and federal chief information officer Clare Martorana said in a statement announcing the new investment that AbilityOne has been "pivotal" throughout the COVID-19 pandemic "in keeping the federal government and U.S. military operating through nationwide surge to meet exponential increases in demand."

"Many AbilityOne employees are designated as essential workers," Martorana said, noting how thousands of the agency's employees work in non-interruptible services like call centers for the IRS, hospitals for the Department of Veterans Affairs and switchboard operations at U.S. military bases. "With the support of the TMF, this investment will ensure AbilityOne can continue providing these essential services without interruption."

The modernization project is meant to "create a more secure technical system with access control and disaster recovery capability" for the PLIMS software according to the TMF announcement. The board described the current PLIMS software as "obsolete," with "no original manufacturer support, significant security risks, duplicated data, and poor usability and accessibility." 

Jeffrey Koses, chairperson of the AbilityOne Commission, also said in a statement that the investment will "increase the Commission's ability to execute its statutory oversight of the program," which helps employ nearly 40,000 people on AbilityOne contracts across 450 nonprofits nationwide. 

The TMF has been rolling out a steady stream of investments in modernization projects across the federal government since receiving a $1 billion plus-up in the American Rescue Plan Act and $175 million in the annual budget process. The fund has so far invested over $600 million in 33 projects across 18 agencies.

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