The Technology Modernization Board issued its second round of IT funding awards Oct. 29 to three agency projects totaling $23.5 million.

The Departments of Labor and Agriculture and the General Services Administration were awarded $3.5 million, $5 million and $15 million, respectively, with this set of awards marking the second time USDA has had a project approved by the Board.

“Technology is a key enabler for government and we must make sure our technology capabilities are modern, secure and resilient,” said Suzette Kent, federal chief information officer and chairwoman of the TMF Board.

“Today’s announcement continues to illustrate how agencies are leveraging [the Modernizing Government Technology] Act to accelerate their transformation journeys. Awards today will drive specific citizen and agency benefits, but also create roadmaps and learnings that will be leveraged across other agencies with similar challenges.”

The fund, which was established by the Modernizing Government Technology Act in December 2017, was originally appropriated $100 billion out of the $250 million originally authorized in legislation. The first set of awards drained the fund of $45 million for projects across three agencies in June 2018.

Following the second set of awards, the fund has $31.7 million remaining, though board members will be able to award additional projects beyond that once the first sets of awardees begin paying back the fund as their modernization projects reap savings.

It is uncertain whether the TMF will receive the additional $150 million authorized in statute before the timeframe for its appropriations runs out, as some members of Congress want to see tangible results before approving more money.

The Department of Labor’s $3.5 million will be used to digitize the agency’s Labor Certification system, which authorizes American employers to hire foreign workers through visas to the U.S.

“DOL anticipates this modernization will enable them to process applications faster while experiencing significant cost savings, increased efficiency and improved citizen-facing processes,” the news release on the awards said.

The Department of Agriculture, which was already awarded $10 million to improve and enhance the customer experience portal, will use its new $5 million award to work in infrastructure optimization and cloud adoption initiatives.

“The project represents the beginning of cloud-enablement across USDA, migrating existing applications to the cloud and consolidating cloud expertise so that it can be leveraged enterprisewide. USDA anticipates it will have a greater ability to serve its mission across sites resulting in higher customer satisfaction, better security and lower cost of agency operations,” the news release said.

The General Services Administration, which received the largest chunk of funding in the second round and also houses the fund itself, will use its $15 million to modernize its software applications and decouple itself from proprietary technologies.

“GSA anticipates it will have a greater ability to service its mission by making it easier to access actionable business information through the expansion of more flexible open-source technologies,” the news release said.

The TMF has been at the center of many of the Trump administration’s IT modernization initiatives, with board members emphasizing that they ideally want to fund projects that could have across government applicability.

“The Technology Modernization Fund plays a key role toward the President’s Management Agenda’s IT modernization efforts,” said Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget.

“I am thrilled to see the fund’s continued success in allowing federal agencies to modernize their projects as this administration strives to provide the best quality services to taxpayers.”

Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.

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