Washington —The AbilityOne Commission, an independent agency that supplies the federal government with everyday goods and services provided by employees who are blind or have a disability, is among the latest recipients of Technology Modernization Fund investments.
The fund, which has funded 33 projects across 18 federal agencies, will give about $1.8 million to AbilityOne to modernize its Procurement List Information Management System, the main software responsible for supporting an online product catalog used by employing nonprofits and federal agency customers.
The current list system is obsolete and has several problems related to security risks, duplicate data and poor usability, the TMF investment brief said.
The commission, which oversees the program, will plan to use funds for open-source technology to modernize the system as a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service, a model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.
The project description said this will connect federal buyers with program partners to source procurement items, improve system accessibility and better secure the technology for disaster recovery capability.
“AbilityOne is a small, independent agency with an extremely meaningful mission,” said Clare Martorana, who chairs the TMF board and serves as the federal chief information officer. “During the pandemic, the AbilityOne program has been pivotal in keeping the federal government and U.S. military operating through nationwide surge to meet exponential increases in demand. With the support of the TMF, this investment will ensure AbilityOne can continue providing these essential services without interruption.”
AbilityOne provides nearly $4 billion in products and services to the federal government annually and is one of the largest sources of employment in the U.S. for individuals who are blind or who have significant disabilities.
The TMF is authorized by the Modernizing Government Technology Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 and is overseen by a seven-member oversight board currently chaired by Martorana.
To date, well over half of TMF investments made have used nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to address urgent IT modernization needs.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.