TMF announces new round of awards amid funding uncertainty

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The $1 billion Technology Modernization Fund boost from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act is running out, and it remains to be seen whether Congress will keep the program afloat.

The General Services Administration announced $31 million in funding for modernization projects at three federal agencies on Tuesday. These latest Technology Modernization Fund investments may be among the last underwritten by a $1 billion plus-up in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act — and among the last issued by the TMF program if it's not renewed by Congress.

The Federal Election Commission received a $8.8 million boost to upgrade its legacy FECFile Online filing portal, which dates back to 1997 and can only operate on Windows-based machines. The update will modernize the software to operate in the cloud across a range of computing platforms. 

At the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Education is getting a $5.86 million investment to modernize websites at bureau-funded schools. According to the funding announcement, many BIE-operated and -funded schools lack basic websites. The investment will support upgrades at more than 183 schools.

The Department of Energy is tapping a $17 million award to modernize its obsolete human resources infrastructure. According to the TMF announcement, the system last received a sizable investment more than 20 years ago. The new funding will take DOE's human resources operations across multiple systems into the cloud. David Turk, the agency's deputy secretary, said that the move to a commercial, cloud-based system means that  DOE’s human capital solutions are future-proofed and will keep pace with global standards."

The fund, which boasts $950 million in ongoing projects across 60 agencies, was created in 2017 out of the Modernizing Government Technology Act. Historically, obtaining funding for the revolving fund has been a struggle, with appropriators from both parties taking issue with increasingly flexible payback requirements offered to agencies who dip into the fund. TMF has nearly exhausted its Rescue Plan Act funding. 

There's bipartisan legislation in the works to reauthorize the TMF program, which is set to sunset next year, but House Republicans are looking to zero out funding for the program in fiscal year 2025 appropriations bills.

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan is urging Congress to maintain support of the revolving fund, which allows cash-strapped agencies to take on needed modernization projects.

"GSA is committed to the TMF’s long-term success as a proven model for driving effective, impactful, and cost-effective IT modernization governmentwide,” Carnahan said in a statement. “It is essential that Congress provide resources to allow the TMF to continue to meet the growing demand for investments which address constantly evolving technology needs, threats, and advancements so that government can deliver better for the American people.”

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