Federal CIO Suzette Kent, chair of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) board, said today she recognizes the imperative to share data with Congress on TMF progress, as the opportunity to secure TMF funding for FY2019 appears to approach its final stage.

House appropriators in June voted to provide $150 million to the TMF, which allows Federal agencies to fund IT modernization projects, achieve savings, and reinvest those savings in a central revolving capital fund. But the Senate on Wednesday approved a “minibus” appropriations bill that includes no funding for the TMF.

The Senate in June requested more information from the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget–which oversee the TMF–about the progress of the program before it would make the decision to dole out more funds for FY2019. TMF received $100 million of funding for FY2018, but has only awarded $45 million of that amount to date.

OMB’s response to the Senate request for more information has been strong, and today Kent said the administration would continue to actively meet legislators’ need for more information and explanation.

“I personally, as well as the TMF board, are committed to continuing to dispatch Congress’ wishes in this regard, and it’s with utmost priority that we’ll provide information and process transparency and share results of success with the House and Senate from what these new techniques allow us to do,” Kent said.

Kent recently implored funding of the TMF–at a July 25 House Oversight and Government Hearing–and the White House released a statement of administration policy urging TMF appropriations the day prior to that hearing.

Kent said today that the fund shows “that Congress is thinking creatively about modernization solutions, and they created this vehicle that can serve as a way for us to point to solutions that can serve cross-government as change agents.”

Kent also quoted comments made Tuesday by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., a sponsor of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act that created the TMF. Moran discussed the pivotal role of the TMF “to increase our nation’s ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyberattacks” and “to bolster an environment to incentivize agencies to strengthen their IT systems.”

Kent stressed that “agencies, GSA, and OMB appreciate the modernization support of Congress” and “the flexibility of the MGT Act.” But now it is up to Congress to decide the future of the fund for the next fiscal year. The next, and presumably final, attempt to fund TMF for FY2019 will come when House and Senate negotiators convene a conference committee to reconcile differences in their respective appropriations bills.

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Joe Franco
Joe Franco
Joe Franco is a Program Manager, covering IT modernization, cyber, and government IT policy for MeriTalk.com.