The federal government’s modernization cash pool survived a funding scare in the latest Capitol Hill budget agreement after not receiving funds in the Senate’s version of the bill.
The Technology Modernization Fund, which helps fund modernization projects throughout several agencies, was appropriated $25 million in the budget agreement released Dec. 16, just days before the government would run out of money.
The General Services Administration, which runs the TMF, requested $150 million for the fund in the fiscal 2020 budget request. The agreement is $10 million less than the $35 million in funds the House appropriations committee wanted to allocate to the fund back in June.
During the budget process, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., voiced his displeasure at the lack of funds, saying that the fund was “deserving” of additional funds from Congress. In a statement Dec. 16, Moran praised the additional allocation of dollars to the fund.
“I applaud my colleagues from the appropriations committees of both chambers for prioritizing the efficiency and security of the federal government’s IT infrastructure," Moran said. “The TMF remains a vital tool that federal agencies should continue to consider when identifying technological improvements for their day-to-day operations and replacing their costly and vulnerable legacy IT systems.”
The TMF was created as part of Moran’s legislation in 2017, the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. Between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, the TMF received $125 million, though it requested $438 million during that same period.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the TMF has committed $89 million for seven modernization projects across the federal agencies, though it has only transferred about $37.5 million to the projects as of August 2019.
The TMF is also supposed to pay for itself, with GSA collecting fees from agencies receiving money from the fund to cover operating expenses and agencies repaying the money loaned out back to the GSA. The GAO recently found that GSA has $1.2 million in operating expenses and has only collected $33,000 in fees. According to the GAO, the fund will not recover the funds until 2025 if the current pace continues.
Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.